If you loved A Visit from the Goon Squad, you're going to love The Candy House, too. Written in the same style—internlinked stories, each told in a different voice or format—this novel is incredibly impressive. It's just so, so well done! It also keeps getting better as you go, with my two favorite sections coming toward the end. And don't worry if you've forgotten most of Goon Squad; you don't need to remember that book to love this one.
Another mosaic of character studies presented in wildly different literary styles from Jennifer Egan. The setting is a near-future where anyone's memories and past feelings are accessible through a social media database where you can "own your unconscious" -- or spy on someone else's. It's a spin-off/sequel to A Visit to the Goon Squad, but it's not absolutely essential to read that book first -- I haven't yet and was still utterly engrossed in these overlapping vignettes.
“Egan weaves together these seemingly disparate characters and storylines into a stunning ending. The Candy House is about family, connection, legacy, technology, and so much more. It is her best work yet.”
— Ariana Paliobagis, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, MT
* A New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book, a New York Times Notable Book and a Time Must-Read Book of 2022* Named a Best Book of 2022 by Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, NPR, Oprah Daily, Real Simple, Time Vogue, Vulture, The New Yorker and more! *
Longlisted for the 2023 Carnegie Medal for Excellence Selected as One of Barack Obama’s Summer 2022 Reading List Picks!
“A compelling read that showcases Egan’s masterful storytelling.” —Time “Dazzling.” —Vogue “Radiant, exhilarating.” —Slate “Mesmerizing…A thought-provoking examination of how and why we change.” —People
From one of the most celebrated writers of our time comes an “inventive, effervescent” (Oprah Daily) novel about the memory and quest for authenticity and human connection.
The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is forty, with four kids, restless, and desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—which allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share your memories in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes.
In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter, and a chapter of tweets. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also a moving testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for connection, family, privacy, and love.
“A beautiful exploration of loss, memory, and history” (San Francisco Chronicle), “this is minimalist maximalism. It’s as if Egan compressed a big 19th-century novel onto a flash drive” (The New York Times).
About the Author
Jennifer Egan is the author of six previous books of fiction: Manhattan Beach, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction; A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Keep; the story collection Emerald City; Look at Me, a National Book Award Finalist; and The Invisible Circus. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, McSweeney’s, and TheNew York Times Magazine. Her website is JenniferEgan.com.
Praise for The Candy House
"The Candy House is really an incredible feat... astonishing, even a little bewildering! Jenny is shockingly underrated. She should have the kind of fawning sycophants that dudes like Franzen and Denis Johnson do. Let the cult begin herewith!" —James Hannaham, New York Times Book Review
“This is minimalist maximalism. It’s as if Egan compressed a big 19th-century triple-decker novel onto a flash drive… Egan goes all in on the power of storytelling and of fiction.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“A brilliant demonstration of the unquantifiable pleasures of great fiction.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“The Candy does what only the best and rarest books can: peel back the thin membrane of ordinary life, and find transcendence on the other side.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“Radiant… an exhilarating delight…Egan opens windows on entrancing new worlds, in which what happened depends on who’s telling the story.” —Laura Miller, Slate
“You don't have to read A Visit From the Goon Squad to love this sibling novel to Egan's stellar hit… complex and intimate.” —Good Housekeeping
“May be the smartest novel you read all year… Fiction at its best... gets at our secret selves in ways the internet can’t… Egan’s audacity is welcome.” —Mark Athitakis, USA Today
“This is a beautiful exploration of loss, memory and history, a not too subtle critique of what is lost when we live our lives online.” —Allison Arieff, The San Francisco Chronicle
“Rich in indelible characters… full of humor and heartbreak and insight about our brave new world… Egan’s subtle attention to the distinctive voices of her many characters is remarkable.” —Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
“A fast-paced polyvoiced romp thru America in the grip of a sinister tech that allows others into your mind. EEK!” —Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments