A Doubter's Almanac
List Price: $28
Publisher: Random House
First entered: 20th, Feb 2016
Number of weeks: 2
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this mesmerizing novel, Ethan Canin, the author of America America and The Palace Thief, explores the nature of genius, rivalry, ambition, and love among multiple generations of a gifted family.
Milo Andret is born with an unusual mind. A lonely child growing up in the woods of northern Michigan in the 1950s, he gives little thought to his own talent. But with his acceptance at U.C. Berkeley he realizes the extent, and the risks, of his singular gifts. California in the seventies is a seduction, opening Milo’s eyes to the allure of both ambition and indulgence. The research he begins there will make him a legend; the woman he meets there—and the rival he meets alongside her—will haunt him for the rest of his life. For Milo’s brilliance is entwined with a dark need that soon grows to threaten his work, his family, even his existence.
Spanning seven decades as it moves from California to Princeton to the Midwest to New York, A Doubter’s Almanac tells the story of a family as it explores the way ambition lives alongside destructiveness, obsession alongside torment, love alongside grief. It is a story of how the flame of genius both lights and scorches every generation it touches. Graced by stunning prose and brilliant storytelling, A Doubter’s Almanac is a surprising, suspenseful, and deeply moving novel, a major work by a writer who has been hailed as “the most mature and accomplished novelist of his generation.”
Praise for A Doubter’s Almanac
“[Canin] is at the top of his form, fluent, immersive, confident. You might not know where he’s taking you, but the characters are so vivid, Hans’s voice rendered so precisely, that it’s impossible not to trust in the story. . . . The delicate networks of emotion and connection that make up a family are illuminated, as if by magic, via his prose.”—Slate
“Alternately explosive and deeply interior.”—New York (“Eight Books You Need to Read”)
“A blazingly intelligent novel.”—Los Angeles Times
“Math made beautiful . . . Canin writes with such luxuriant beauty and tender sympathy that even victims of Algebra II will follow his calculations of the heart with rapt comprehension.”—The Washington Post
“A masterful writer at his transcendent best.”—BBC
“Elegant and devastating . . . A Doubter’s Almanac is exquisitely crafted. Canin takes us readers deep into the strange world of his troubled characters without ever making us aware of the effort involved. . . . An odd and completely captivating novel.”—NPR’s Fresh Air
“There is a shimmering loveliness to Canin’s glimpses of higher mathematics. . . . A Doubter’s Almanac is a novel whose achievement is fully equal to the . . . tragedy it portrays. Ethan Canin understands both the allure of great intellectual accomplishment and the price it exacts from those who pursue it. Unlike his protagonist, his own prodigious effort has produced a work of exquisite and enduring beauty.”—Bookreporter
“Ethan Canin writes about mathematics as brilliantly as T. S. Eliot writes about poetry. With this extraordinary novel, Ethan Canin now takes his place on the high wire with the best writers of his time.”—Pat Conroy
“A book that raises the bar for novelists.”—Literary Hub
“Staggeringly ambitious . . . a story of majestic sweep.”—Paste
Name: Ethan Canin
About the author:
Ethan Canin was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He received early encouragement for his writing from a teacher at his prep school, the bestselling author Danielle Steel. A graduate of Stanford University, he received a master's in fine arts from the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop before shifting gears to enroll in Harvard Medical School. Canin continued to work as a physician as he wrote and published his first books.
Currently, he serves on the faculty of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and lives with his wife and children in Iowa and California.