The Brooklyn Follies

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Paperback, 306 pages
Picador, 2006

Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, estranged from his only daughter, the retired life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Nathan finds his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, working in a local bookstore—a far cry from the brilliant academic career he'd begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the charismatic Harry Brightman, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York." Through Tom and Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new set of acquaintances—not to mention a stray relative or two—and leads him to a reckoning with his past. 

Among the many twists in the delicious plot are a scam involving a forgery of the first page of The Scarlet Letter, a disturbing revelation that takes place in a sperm bank, and an impossible, utopian dream of a rural refuge. Meanwhile, the wry and acerbic Nathan has undertaken something he calls The Book of Human Folly, in which he proposes "to set down in the simplest, clearest language possible an account of every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I had committed during my long and checkered career as a man." But life takes over instead, and Nathan's despair is swept away as he finds himself more and more implicated in the joys and sorrows of others.

The Brooklyn Follies is Paul Auster's warmest, most exuberant novel, a moving and unforgettable hymn to the glories and mysteries of ordinary human life.

Editorial Reviews

"If you haven't read Paul Auster's fiction before, his newest novel, The Brooklyn Follies, is a great place to begin. . . . Auster has written a sublime soap opera about the ways in which people abandon and save one another. He captures a historical moment, our twisted America, and he offers a message of hope. Love will save us. We will save each other. Auster employs tough-guy talk and funny, believable stories of folly in his search for wisdom and goodness." The Boston Globe
"Probably the first authentic attempt to deal with the post-September 11 world . . . It is a multilayered tapestry, with whimsical chapter headings and Dickensian depth." San Francisco Chronicle
"As fate has its way with his irresistible characters, the sorcerer-like Auster rhapsodizes about nature, orchestrates unlikely love affairs and hilarious conversations, and considers such extreme experiences as a life in pornography and marriage to a tyrannical religious fanatic. . . . This addition to his increasingly tender cycle of love songs to Brooklyn is his most down-to-earth, sensuous, and socially conscious novel to date." Booklist
"A charming, beguiling story about the terrible beauty of families and the redemptive power of love . . . His writing is packed with surprises." USA Today
"A big-hearted, life-affirming, tenderly comic yarn . . . Suffice it to say that by the end, the partner-less are happily partnered, the long-lost are returned, and love finally flourishes where dread once thrived." The Washington Post
"The Brooklyn Follies is another Paul Auster masterpiece." BookPage

About the Author

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Travels in the ScriptoriumOracle Night, and Man in the Dark, among many other works. I Thought My Father Was God, the NPR National Story Project Anthology, which he edited, was also a national bestseller. His work has been translated into more than thirty-five languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.