I loved this book so deeply that it's hard for me to articulate all the reasons why. Anna is a fierce and relatable protagonist with many responsibilities in the absence of her father- a man she adored, and whose disappearance still haunts her. The beautifully written story expands with cleverly interwoven storylines involving the Brooklyn Naval Yard, the organized crime scene in New York City, and even the Merchant Marine. Egan's first historical novel is an absolute triumph filled with vibrant details and flawed, compelling characters.
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
The long-awaited, daring, and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. Manhattan Beach
opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family.
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 had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career with the Ziegfeld Follies, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a nightclub, she chances to meet Dexter Styles again, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished.
Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan's first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach
is a spectacular novel by one of the greatest writers of our time.