From one of the most celebrated writers of our time, a literary figure with cult status, a "sibling novel" to her Pulitzer Prize winning A Visit from the Goon Squad - an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the...Read More
From one of the most celebrated writers of our time, a literary figure with cult status, a "sibling novel" to her Pulitzer Prize winning A Visit from the Goon Squad - an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the quest for authenticity and meaning in a world where memories and identities are no longer private.
The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is "one of those tech demi-gods with whom we're all on a first name basis." Bix is 40, with four kids, restless, desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or "externalizing" memory. It's 2010. Within a decade, Bix's new technology, "Own Your Unconscious" - that allows you access to every memory you've ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others - has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.
In spellbinding interlocking narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also extraordinarily moving, a testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption. In the world of Egan's spectacular imagination, there are "counters" who track and exploit desires and there are "eluders," those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles - from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter and a chapter of tweets.
If Goon Squad was organized like a concept album, The Candy House incorporates Electronic Dance Music's more disjunctive approach. The parts are titled: Build, Break, Drop. With an emphasis on gaming, portals, and alternate worlds, its structure also suggests the experience of moving among dimensions in a role-playing game.
The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. Egan takes to stunning new heights her "deeply intuitive forays into the darker aspects of our technology-driven, image-saturated culture" (Vogue). The Candy House delivers an absolutely extraordinary combination of fierce, exhilarating intelligence and heart.
Jennifer Egan is the author of six previous books of fiction: Manhattan Beach, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction; A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Keep; the story collection Emerald City; Look at Me, a National Book Award Finalist; and The Invisible Circus. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Granta, McSweeney's, and The New York Times Magazine. Her website is JenniferEgan.com.
"May be the smartest novel you read all year... Too much order, Egan suggests, would only play into the algorithm's hands. Fiction at its best gets at our weird, gritty, secret selves in ways the internet can't... Egan's audacity is welcome. Anything that's a challenge to the algorithm is a gift to humanity - and to fiction." - Mark Athitakis, USA Today
"This is the thrill of both Goon Squad and Candy House: They exploit this new and strange material, but their greatest pleasures feel particular to books... For Egan, getting it right has to do with fulfilling a reader's craving -- the word 'craving' appears in the first line of Candy House and the last chapter of Goon Squad -- for mystery and imagination, as opposed to the barrage of information, the much emptier imagistic titillations, that we find much easier to access." - Lynn Steger Strong, Los Angles Times
"Like a well-curated playlist, The Candy House uses chapter breaks to switch perspectives and tempos without killing the mood, and each sensuous little story feels like a peek through the blinds at people whose larger journeys we can only guess at." - Patrick Rapa, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Egan returns to the world of her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2010 novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad in this long-awaited follow-up. Some characters and themes recur -- the music executive Bennie Salazar; his mentor, Lou; and his protégé, Sasha; among others -- though Egan jumps between the perspectives of their families and loved ones in a complex story about memory, storytelling and how technology encroaches on our lives." - Joumana Khatib, The New York Times
"Sometimes...you pick up a novel and it makes your skin prickle -- not necessarily because it's a great novel qua novel, which you can't know until the end, but because of the velocity of its microperceptions. You've entered elite head space of one kind or another. Jennifer Egan's new one, The Candy House, is one of these novels. It makes you feel a bit high, drugged, and fitted with V.R. goggles, almost from the start... The Candy House is a trim 334 pages, but it has a dwarf-star density. Inside, 15 or 20 other novels are trying to climb out... This is minimalist maximalism. It's as if Egan compressed a big 19th-century triple-decker novel onto a flash drive... Egan has a zonking sense of control; she knows where she's going and the polyphonic effects she wants to achieve, and she achieves them, as if she were writing on a type of MacBook that won't exist for another decade... The Candy House and Goon Squad are touchstone New York City and technology novels of our time; they'll be printed in one volume someday, I suspect, by the Library of America... Always check for your wallet when a writer goes all in, as Egan does here, on the power of storytelling and of fiction. The Candy House makes that case simply by existing." - Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"This is a beautiful exploration of loss, memory and history, a not too subtle critique of what is lost when we live our lives online." - Allison Arieff, The San Francisco Chronicle
"Even in an era of boundless hype, Jennifer Egan's The Candy House has a legitimate claim on the title of Most Anticipated Book of the Year...[contains] a brilliant demonstration of the unquantifiable pleasures of great fiction." - Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"A fast-paced polyvoiced romp thru America in the grip of a sinister tech that allows others into your mind. EEK!" - Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments
"Egan is a puzzlemaster who conceives of her projects as problems to solve. She is known less for a type of book than her singular intelligence and ambition, which produce works that defy categorization." - Lauren Mechling, Vogue
"Its teeming tapestry of strivers, dropouts, and dreamers as insistently alive as they were 12 years ago... The Candy House, for all its dips and spins and cul-de-sacs, its brain- weevil gadgets and future panics, does what only the best and rarest books can: peel back the thin membrane of ordinary life, and find transcendence on the other side." - Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
"I'm pretty sure there's nothing Jennifer Egan can't do, so a follow-up to her influential Pulitzer Prize-winning 2010 novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad? Hell, yes. Egan being Egan, this is not a traditional sequel, of course--she calls it a "sibling novel"--but it promises to revisit some peripheral characters from the earlier novel and expand upon their stories with a scope and emotional wallop equal to its predecessor." - Tom Beer, Kirkus
"Described as a sibling novel to her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit From the Goon Squad, The Candy House begins with tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton and his venture called Own Your Unconscious, wherein people can download and view their own memories, and share and exchange the memories of others...Technology, intimacy, privacy--these are subjects Egan has tackled before, and with such brilliance and formal daring. I cannot wait!" -The Millions
"[The Candy House] is a novel that resists form, incorporating tweets and emails from the future in a series of interconnected stories that show the promise of endless intersubjectivity and the perils of finding missed connections. As we continue to make sense of the fractured attachments that social media makes possible in our own world, Egan imagines a present and a future that push us to interrogate what such a collective mind-meld will mean." - Vulture
"Using the inventiveness that made A Visit From the Goon Squad such a delight, Egan delivers another formally creative novel." - Buzzfeed
"A complex, compelling read that showcases Egan's masterful storytelling." - Time
"Another multi-narrator masterpiece about searching for meaning in a crazy world." - Entertainment Weekly
"A dazzling feat of literary construction that belies the profound questions at its core: Does technology aid our sense of narrative or obscure it?" - Vogue