Summary and book reviews of The Prize by Jill Bialosky

The Prize

by Jill Bialosky

The Prize by Jill Bialosky X
The Prize by Jill Bialosky
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2015, 325 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2016, 325 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

"Like Edward feels upon discovering a transcendent piece of art, this book finds that little opening at the edge of your soul and seeps in."

Edward Darby has everything a man could hope for: meaningful work, a loving wife, and a beloved daughter. With a rising career as a partner at an esteemed gallery, he strives not to let ambition, money, power, and his dark past corrode the sanctuary of his domestic and private life. Influenced by his father, a brilliant Romantics scholar, Edward has always been more of a purist than an opportunist. But when a celebrated artist controlled by her insecurities betrays him, and another very different artist awakens his heart and stirs up secrets from his past, Edward will find himself unmoored from his marriage, his work, and the memory of his beloved father. And when the finalist of an important prize are announced, and the desperate artists maneuver to seek its validation, Edward soon learns that betrayal comes in many forms, and that he may be hurtling toward an act that challenges his own notions about what comprises a life worth living.

Prologue

Edward Darby knew that an artist's work had the power to change the way in which art was perceived, for every successful artist must recreate the medium, but he did not know, each time he went to a new artist's studio, if he'd ever find it. When you see a work of art, it will be as if everything else in relationship to it has faded. Art should transport the seer from the ordinary to the sublime. His father, a scholar of Romantic poetry, told him this when he was a boy. But it was more than that. It was the myths artists created about their work that gave it clout, and as an art dealer, he was part of that creation. He thought about all this as he looked for Agnes Murray's name on the directory in the vestibule of a crumbling old warehouse in Bushwick. It was a cold and gray morning in April. He hoped he wasn't wasting his time.

He climbed four staircases to her studio. Out of breath, he saw her leaning against the battered door at the end of a ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

As a portrait of middle-aged vulnerability and weakness, this is a rich story with a believable, complex central character. Edward might choose the worst imaginable moment to reveal the secret from his past to his wife, Holly, but he remains a sympathetic character, even when his failings are most obvious. The marriage between the two celebrity artists is also intriguing, with suggestions of competition and manipulation between the pair. The Prize is a moving, well-crafted novel but at times the drama lacks urgency. Bialosky has a penchant for mirroring her character's interior struggles or disappointments in descriptive passages that slow the narrative.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Full Review (405 words).

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Media Reviews

The New Yorker

The novel’s characters are caught in predictable midlife crises—“Do you ever wake up and wonder how you got here?” one asks—but Bialosky deepens our sense of these troubles with well-chosen details, such as the protagonist’s luxury-goods addiction. The plot is well crafted, carrying the reader to a surprising end

New York Times Book Review

The Prize is a graceful, quiet novel that finds its gravitational pull in the dissonance between the transcendence of art and the slog of everyday life. Bialosky has several books of poetry to her name, and her writing glows with insight.

New York Journal of Books

Jill Bialosky ushers us inside the complicated lives of artists and those who strive both to represent them and to capitalize on their talents . . . it’s the kind of intrigue you will read late into the night.

Publishers Weekly

[A] luminous behind-the-scenes view of the art world ... One expects a poet's prose to soar in fiction, and the author does not disappoint, crafting her own work of art with her evocative, fresh descriptions and her careful observations of how artists transform inspiration into their work.

Booklist

Starred Review. This fluently sophisticated and exquisitely pleasurable novel is radiant with precise and sensuous descriptions and intricately laced with discerning and affecting insights into the passion and business of art and the meaning and struggles of marriage.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Like Edward feels upon discovering a transcendent piece of art, this book finds that little opening at the edge of your soul and seeps in.

Author Blurb John Banville, author of The Sea
The Prize is a subtle, incisive, and erotically charged exploration of the dark crossroad where art, money, and obsession converge. Jill Bialosky has written a true and dangerous novel.

Author Blurb Jonathan Dee, author of The Privileges, Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Jill Bialosky brings a poet's ear for language to this moving, knowing meditation on marriage and art and the emotional costs of a life spent in pursuit of even the worthiest ideals.

Author Blurb Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist
The Prize is vividly modern, and in the tensions offered between art and life, timeless. Yet finally, Bialosky's novel is a kind of old-fashioned love story, with an ending whose bittersweetness is powerfully earned.

Author Blurb Joan Wickersham, author of The News from Spain and The Suicide Index, a Finalist for the National Book Award
Jill Bialosky has written a haunting novel about the gulf between art and the art world – the place where deals are made and souls are lost – but more, about the cost of our choices, our failures, and our silences. Wintry, subtle, unnerving and mysterious in its impact, this book drew me in deeply and really got to me.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Berg, author of Open House
A compulsively readable novel about art: both that on the canvas, and that of finding one's home in another.

Author Blurb Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life
[Jill Bialosky] delves deeply into nothing less then the complexities of art and desire, and their often dangerous interaction with commerce. At its heart, her wonderful new work, The Prize, is tense, romantic, and timely; a novel about passion and betrayal.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Art Inspired by 9/11

The events of September 11, 2001 changed the world in many ways and naturally, that change has been reflected in the arts and humanities. In film, fiction, theatre and more, artists from across the globe have responded to the tragedy in many ways and on many levels.

"After 9/11," writes Jill Bialosky in her novel The Prize, "many artists questioned how they could make the same work they had made before." In the book, Agnes Murray and her husband Nate explore "the legacy of 9/11" in their work. Although they are fictional characters, in the real world, many continue to respond to 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror.

In film, United 93 (2006), charts the hijacking of a plane bound for San Francisco from Newark on the morning of ...

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