Critics and readers alike hailed Swimming, Joanna Hershon’s fiction debut. “Compelling,” said the Washington Post, while Vanity Fair called Swimming a “page-turning premiere.” Now Hershon brings us her anticipated second novel, in which she vividly explores the secrets of an American family. The Outside of August is a mesmerizing, beautifully written story that combs the emotional landscape of its characters with power and precision.
For as long as Alice Green can remember, her elusive mother, Charlotte, has moved in and out of family life—disappearing relentlessly and often without explanation. Despite the exotic clutter of souvenirs that detail Charlotte’s international travels, the Green’s home becomes progressively hollow, as nothing but Charlotte can fill the empty spaces.
With their mother’s tenuous presence, and their tender but distant father working long hours, Alice and her brother, August, react in different ways. While seeking constant affection from other women, August relies on an unspoken bond with Charlotte that allows him a certain freedom. But Alice feels no such security and grows increasingly unmoored, always in search of ways to keep her mother at home.
When, years later, her unfettered brother becomes strangely remote, Alice journeys to find him in an isolated beach town. It is there that a deeply buried secret will have to unravel in order for Alice to come to terms with her fractured family and her place within it—and learn to let go of a mother she perhaps never really knew.
About the Author
Joanna Hershon is the acclaimed author of Swimming. She received a masters of fine arts in fiction from Columbia University. She has been an Edward Albee Writing Fellow and a twice-produced playwright in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Derek Buckner, a painter.
“Brilliant. . . Hershon’s writing is intimate and arresting, and her characters are vivid. Her triumph is the breathing, shimmering world she creates around the Green family.”
—The Washington Post
“TAUT AND SUSPENSEFUL . . . Hershon succeeds in creating idiosyncratic characters and a story that won’t let go of your attention.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“REMARKABLE . . . As tightly wound and as tender as its main character, Alice Green. . . . Hershon is a gifted writer. The precision of her prose is a delight. . . . [This] poignant, utterly convincing depiction of family unhappiness will strike a familiar chord with many readers.”
—The Boston Globe
“Hershon’s epic novel is full of dense psychological portraits . . . [She] propels this story about the shifting and dangerous tides of love and need into something close to majesty.”
—The Washington Post
“Hershon immerses readers completely in this deeply moving novel.”
“Recommended . . . Breezy dialog and rich descriptions of people and locales keep the reader engaged.”