A novel which is, like George Hagens The Laments
, about a continent-hopping family might seem like yesterdays news when an international upbringing now seems almost de rigueur amongst writers. Yet this is no self-aggrandising romp round the world. Howard Laments grand plans for a better life and career lead his family from colonial Rhodesia to a bigoted, hypocritical 1970s New Jersey, via Bahrains blinkered ex-pat community and a violent small town in England.
The novel spans the eighteen years from Wills birth and the secret of his adoption by the Laments to his graduation from high school. The first years in Africa provide a solid foundation to the story. It is when Will is a little older, and the family have left the obviously unjust colony that Hagens skill at peppering the story with culture shocks and mischievous details really enlivens the Laments travels and Wills friendships and loves.
Luckily the reader is kept chuckling, because Hagen takes us unflinchingly into the depression of Howards spectacularly failed career, his wife Julias loneliness and the reality of family poverty. Tragedy never turns to bitterness though, and the characters final, tempered hopefulness is a well-earned haven for this long-adrift family.--Stefan Tobler
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'A fine novel, about family, migration, identity and the struggle to find and hold onto it. It is also hugely entertaining and very, very funny.' (Roddy Doyle )
'The family story has been a durable mainstay of the novel for more than a century ... THE LAMENTS is a lively corrective to the subgenre, a family story on speed, with a jolt of black comedy that makes it a close relative to that greatest of all American family stories, THE SIMPSONS ... any apparent invitation to either characters or readers to fall into a sentimental slump is quickly withdrawn. The only other novel I can think of that creates this effect with equal success is John Irving's WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP ... There is an admirable and enviable range and ambition ... the appearance of George Hagen on the literary scene is a gain for readers everywhere.' (New York Times Book Review, Jonathan Wilson )
'Immensely readable, funny, and touching - a complete joy.' (Elizabeth Strout )
'George Hagen's highly entertaining debut novel features an irresistibly headstrong family, a global sweep, and not only a sense of loss and displacement that's perfectly in tune with the world we live in but also a full measure of resilient humanity.' (Gary Shteyngart )
'Luminous, humane, and wonderfully acerbic - as if Evelyn Waugh got a hold of John Irving's characters and handed them all Pimm’s No. 1. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this is one of the best debut novels I've read in years.' (Peter Blauner )