The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Published: 2022 1. First lines 2 Cover: Macmillan 3. Three people silhouette [Public Domain] via Pexels 4. Background: Cy Twombly painting [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia

Salo Oppenheimer is traumatised in his twenties by a car accident that killed three of his friends. He drifts into marrying Johanna Hirsch who longs for a big happy family. However, after a few years of childlessness, they have triplets through IVF. Harrison, Sally and Lewyn grow up in the large house in Brooklyn, their family barely connecting. When the triplets leave for College, Johanna decides to have a fourth child.

“Privilege and tragedy. A perfect storm for any adolescent.”

This is a very engaging and satisfying story, though it is “a bit slow in the middle section” – as noted by Kirkus. The author has developed complex characters that draw in the reader. The Financial Times calls it a “satisfyingly sprawling saga about an enviably wealthy but appallingly dysfunctional Jewish American family”, and the Publishers Weekly calls it a “crisp and panoramic narrative”.

Author: Jean Hanff Korelitz

Quotes:

“It’s perhaps an American trait,” said Eli, in conclusion, that when we want something we want it now. Separation from England? Dump the tea in the harbor. Somebody turns up a nugget in California? Everybody head west.”

“This is the flaw in making a bargain with yourself. There is no one else there to agree to the terms.”

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