Lauded as one of our nation's finest writers, Alice McDermott has written nine novels over the course of her career. Three became finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and one—Charming Billy—won the National Book Award and American Book Award.
McDermott's newest book, Absolution, is being published on October 31. Already being called a "moral masterpiece" (Ann Patchett), it's "another elegantly written, immaculately conceived novel that immerses the reader in the contradictions and moral ambiguities of the human heart" (Tim O'Brien).
Together with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Early Bird Books is giving away an early copy of Absolution, plus a set of seven beautifully repackaged earlier novels from McDermott.
Enter by October 2nd for your chance to win. And don't forget to double your chances by signing up for The Reader newsletter, too!
Note: This giveaway is now closed.
About the Prizes
A riveting account of women’s lives on the margins of the Vietnam War, from the renowned winner of the National Book Award.
You have no idea what it was like. For us. The women, I mean. The wives.
American women—American wives—have been mostly minor characters in the literature of the Vietnam War, but in Absolution they take center stage. Tricia is a shy newlywed, married to a rising attorney on loan to navy intelligence. Charlene is a practiced corporate spouse and mother of three, a beauty and a bully. In Saigon in 1963, the two women form a wary alliance as they balance the era’s mandate to be “helpmeets” to their ambitious husbands with their own inchoate impulse to “do good” for the people of Vietnam.
Sixty years later, Charlene’s daughter, spurred by an encounter with an aging Vietnam vet, reaches out to Tricia. Together, they look back at their time in Saigon, taking wry account of that pivotal year and of Charlene’s altruistic machinations, and discovering how their own lives as women on the periphery—of politics, of history, of war, of their husbands’ convictions—have been shaped and burdened by the same sort of unintended consequences that followed America’s tragic interference in Southeast Asia.
A virtuosic new novel from Alice McDermott, one of our most observant, most affecting writers, about folly and grace, obligation, sacrifice, and, finally, the quest for absolution in a broken world.
The Ninth Hour
On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens a gas tap in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove—to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his pregnant wife—that “the hours of his life . . . belonged to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Saviour, an aging nun, a Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor, appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.
In Catholic Brooklyn in the early part of the twentieth century, decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence, and yet his suicide, though never spoken of, reverberates through many lives—testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations. Rendered with remarkable delicacy, heart, and intelligence, Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour is a crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.
A fully realized portrait of one woman's life in all its complexity, by the National Book Award–winning author
An ordinary life—its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott's extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections—of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age—come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott's deft, lyrical voice.
Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an "amadan," a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott's novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.
Marie's first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother's brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents' deaths; the births and lives of Marie's children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn—McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.
A Publishers Weekly Best Fiction Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013
A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013
Charming Billy is the winner of the 1998 National Book Award for Fiction.
Alice McDermott's striking novel, Charming Billy, is a study of the lies that bind and the weight of familial love, of the way good intentions can be as destructive as the truth they were meant to hide.
Billy Lynch's family and friends have gathered to comfort his widow, and to pay their respects to one of the last great romantics. As they trade tales of his famous humor, immense charm, and consuming sorrow, a complex portrait emerges of an enigmatic man, a loyal friend, a beloved husband, an incurable alcoholic.
A Bigamist's Daughter
Elizabeth Connelly, editor at a New York vanity press, sells the dream of publication (admittedly, to writers of questionable talent). Stories of true emotional depth rarely cross her desk. But when a young writer named Tupper Daniels walks in, bearing an unfinished novel, Elizabeth is drawn to both the novelist and his story—a lyrical tale about a man in love with more than one woman at once. Tupper's manuscript unlocks memories of her own secretive father, who himself may have been a bigamist. As Elizabeth and Tupper search for the perfect dénouement, their affair, too, approaches a most unexpected and poignant coda.
A brilliant debut from one of our most celebrated authors, A Bigamist's Daughter is "a wise, sad, witty novel about men and women, God, hope, love, illusion, and fiction itself" (Newsweek).
In That Night, New York Times bestselling author Alice McDermott, "has taken a suburban teenage romance and pregnancy and infused it with the power, the ominousness, and the star-crossed romanticism of a contemporary Romeo and Juliet” (Chicago Tribune)
A Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award
It is high summer, the early 1960s. Sheryl and Rick, two Long Island teenagers, share an intense, all-consuming love. But Sheryl’s widowed mother steps between them, and one moonlit night Rick and a gang of hoodlums descend upon her quiet neighborhood.
That night, driven by Rick’s determination to reclaim Sheryl, the young men provoke a violent confrontation, and as fathers step forward to protect their turf, notions of innocence belonging to both sides of the brawl are fractured forever.
Alice McDermott’s That Night “is as carefully constructed as a poem, giving off a lustrous glow, and is poignant in the telling” (People).
At Weddings and Wakes
Lucy Dailey leaves suburbia twice a week with her three children in tow, returning to the Brooklyn home where she grew up, and where her stepmother and unmarried sisters still live. The children quietly observe Aunt Veronica, who drowns her sorrows in drink.
Aunt Agnes, a caustic career woman, and finally Aunt May, the ex-nun, blossoming with a late and unexpected love, dutifully absorbing the legacy of their less-than-perfect family. Alice McDermott beautifully evokes three generations of an Irish-American family in this "haunting and masterly work of literary art" (The Wall Street Journal).
Child of My Heart
A young girl's astonishing, poignant first look into the turbulent heart of things
"I had in my care that summer four dogs, three cats, the Moran kids, Daisy, my eight-year-old cousin, and Flora, the toddler child of a local artist. There was also, for a while, a litter of wild rabbits, three of them, that had been left under our back steps.... "
Alice McDermott's haunting and enchanting new work of fiction—her first since the bestselling Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award—is narrated by a woman who was born beautiful. Her parents decided that her best chance in life was to marry a wealthy man, so she was raised on the east end of Long Island, among the country houses of the rich. On the cusp of fifteen, she is the town's most sought-after babysitter—cheerful, beloved, a wonder with children and animals, but also a solitary soul with an already complex understanding of human nature—when her favorite cousin, Daisy, comes to spend the summer.
The narrator's witty, piquant, deeply etched evocation of all that was really transpiring under the surface during that seemingly idyllic season gives her wry tale—infused with suppressed passion, disappointment, and enduring hope—its remarkable vividness and impact. Once again, Alice McDermott explores the mysterious depths of what seems like everyday life with unforgettable insight and resonant emotional power.
For full details, see official rules.
Note: The sweepstakes is open to all legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington, DC who are 18 years of age and older by September 22, 2023.