The Cosmopolitans: Book summary and reviews of The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman

The Cosmopolitans

by Sarah Schulman

The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman X
The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2016
    296 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

A modern retelling of Balzac's classic Cousin Bette by one of America's most prolific and significant writers.

Earl, a black, gay actor working in a meatpacking plant, and Bette, a white secretary, have lived next door to each other in the same Greenwich Village apartment building for thirty years. Shamed and disowned by their families, both found refuge in New York and in their domestic routine. Everything changes when Hortense, a wealthy young actress from Ohio, comes to the city to "make it." Textured with the grit and gloss of midcentury Manhattan, The Cosmopolitans is a lush, inviting read. The truths it frames about the human need for love and recognition remain long after the book is closed.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Simultaneously a realist exploration of a particular milieu, an illustration of the changing roles and possibilities for women at that time, and a series of thoughtful musings on the nature of companionship and platonic love, Earl and Bette's story is also a satisfying revenge narrative and a portrait of an unexpected but vital friendship." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Jarring and beautiful, this is a modern classic." - Kirkus

"The novel is written in a stilted style Schulman describes as "Britishized American English" that is used to disrupt the false neutrality of contemporary literary fiction. Both the author's subjects and style exist outside of the dominant narratives of U.S. literature and will appeal to readers of contemporary literary fiction looking for something new." - Library Journal

"A deep, smart, and satisfying novel." - Rabih Alameddine, author of An Unnecessary Woman

"This novel is book club gold—weighty dilemmas, unforgettable characters, and a roller-coaster plot!" - Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow

"The psychological insights Schulman shares with artful simplicity will shatter your heart. A masterpiece." - Michelle Tea, author of How to Grow Up

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Author Information

Sarah Schulman

Sarah Schulman, a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer, professor, and journalist, has published seventeen books. Her awards include a Guggenheim, Fulbright in Judaic Studies, two American Library Association Book Awards (fiction and nonfiction), and the Kessler Prize for Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies. She is distinguished professor of the humanities at CUNY, a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace and faculty advisor to Students for Justice in Palestine.

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