Fools: Book summary and reviews of Fools by Joan Silber

Fools

Stories

By Joan Silber

Fools
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  • Published in USA  May 2013,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

A dazzling new collection of interconnected stories by the National Book Award finalist.

When is it wise to be a fool for something? What makes people want to be better than they are? From New York to India to Paris, from the Catholic Worker movement to Occupy Wall Street, the characters in Joan Silber's dazzling new story cycle tackle this question head-on.

Vera, the shy, anarchist daughter of missionary parents, leaves her family for love and activism in New York. A generation later, her own doubting daughter insists on the truth of being of two minds, even in marriage. The adulterous son of a Florida hotel owner steals money from his family and departs for Paris, where he takes up with a young woman and finds himself outsmarted in turn. Fools ponders the circle of winners and losers, dupers and duped, and the price we pay for our beliefs.

Fools is a luminous, intelligent, and rewarding work of fiction from the author for whom the Boston Globe said, "No other writer can make a few small decisions ripple across the globe, and across time, with more subtlety and power."

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Though they make bad choices and exhibit a multitude of faults, Silber's characters display wonderfully lifelike vulnerability and complexity." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. This powerful and moving collection by a National Book Award finalist (Ideas of Heaven ) recalls Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad in its novelistic cohesion of multiple sprawling tales." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Silber deftly handles a variety of time periods and places with enough recurring motifs - the sorting of donated clothes, the inexplicable marketability of gum, the alienating power of appearance - to link them all together and creates a memorable meditation on work, religion, love, and the search for personal integrity." - Booklist

"A thought-provoking collection; "Buying and Selling" is particularly strong." - Kirkus

"Joan Silber's stories are like compressed novels. They are interlocking tales that fill in the history of revolutionary politics in the twentieth century." - Edmund White

"Fools is astonishing for its range, for its sweeping sense of time and place, and most especially for its deep insight into the way small choices can circle out to shape lives, and even human history. This is a beautiful book and an important literary achievement." - Dan Chaon

"I loved Fools. The stories always surprised me, with the narratives unfolding as if in real time, and then turning unexpected in so many ways, twisting into stories that felt like remembered history, but with such added emotion that I thought about the characters for several days afterward as if they were here in my house." - Susan Straight

"Joan Silber's stories charm us. And amuse us. And engage us. And move us. And even enlighten us. Fools embraces us all." - Amy Bloom

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More Information

Joan Silber is the author of six previous works of fiction. Among many awards and honors, she has won a PEN/Hemingway Award and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.

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