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The sea figures prominently in Manhattan Beach: its darkness, its depth, its dazzling endless potential. The boldest among us cast aside fear and set a course towards its horizon, the siren call of a life larger than that possible within a (seemingly) safe harbor. This being a Jennifer Egan novel, the plot is a stiff wind at our backs as the waves rush under the prow of our boat, carrying us along with Ed Kerrigan as he courts disaster trying to provide for his family after the stock market crash, his daughter Anna as she defies expectations to become the first female diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard during World War Two, and Dexter Styles, the ultimate 1940’s nightclub owner and gangster. It is all just as exhilarating an adventure as you would expect. I loved it.
— Sara, Atlanta
Love the flow, the imagery, and the historical details Jennifer Egan incorporated into the different characters' story lines. It’s set in depression era New York City and goes through WWII. Starting off with Eddie Kerrigan and his struggles to provide for his family, leads into other stories and eventually centers on his daughter Anna Kerrigan who works in the Brooklyn Naval Yard and has dreams of becoming a diver who would repair ships going into war, not your typical “women’s work.” There is also Dexter Styles who is a mobster and struggles with how his life has turned out. I read A Visit From the Goon Squad, but this is my favorite Jennifer Egan book so far.
— Cathy, Atlanta
October 2017 Indie Next List
“Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach captures a time and place on the verge of momentous change. Set in Brooklyn in the 1940s, the novel tells the story of Anna Kerrigan, a young woman who has dropped out of Brooklyn College to contribute what she can to the American war effort. Unsatisfied with her job of inspecting and measuring machine parts, she attempts to enter the male-only world of deep-sea diving. Manhattan Beach is rich and atmospheric, highlighting a period when gangs controlled the waterfront, jazz streamed from the doors of nightclubs, and the future for everyone was far from certain.”
— Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC
LONGLISTED for the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. "Immensely satisfying...an old-fashioned page-turner, tweaked by this witty and sophisticated writer...Egan is masterly at displaying mastery...she works a formidable kind of magic." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times "Dares to satisfy us in a way that stories of an earlier age used to." --Ron Charles, The Washington Post "Egan's prose is transparent and elegant...But the chief joy of reading Manhattan Beach lies in diving under the surface pleasures of the plot (which are plentiful--it's immersive and compelling), and sinking slowly to its dark and unknowable depths. There are deep truths there." --Vox "Excellent...Manhattan Beach is a fleet, sinuous epic, abounding with evocative details and felicitous metaphors... it] magnificently captures the country on the brink of triumph and triumphalism." --Bookforum "Egan's first foray into historical fiction makes you forget you're reading historical fiction at all." --Elle
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.
Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished.
With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan's first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach
is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad,
one of the great writers of our time.