NIGHT SWIM

Jessica Keener

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Kunitz lives in a posh, suburban world of 1970 Boston. From the outside, her parents’ lifestyle appears enviable – a world defined by cocktail parties, expensive cars, and live-in maids to care for their children – but inside their five-bedroom house, all is not well for the Kunitz family. Coming home from school, Sarah finds her well-dressed, pill-popping mother lying disheveled on their living room couch. At night, to escape their parents’ arguments, Sarah and her oldest brother, Peter, find solace in music, while her two younger brothers retreat to their rooms and imaginary lives. Any vestige of decorum and stability drains away when tragedy hits one terrible winter day.

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Sixteen-year-old Sarah Kunitz lives in a posh, suburban world of 1970 Boston. From the outside, her parents’ lifestyle appears enviable – a world defined by cocktail parties, expensive cars, and live-in maids to care for their children – but inside their five-bedroom house, all is not well for the Kunitz family. Coming home from school, Sarah finds her well-dressed, pill-popping mother lying disheveled on their living room couch. At night, to escape their parents’ arguments, Sarah and her oldest brother, Peter, find solace in music, while her two younger brothers retreat to their rooms and imaginary lives. Any vestige of decorum and stability drains away when tragedy hits one terrible winter day. Soon after, their father, a self-absorbed, bombastic professor begins an affair with a younger colleague. Sarah, aggrieved, dives into two summer romances that lead to unforeseen consequences. In a story that will make you laugh and cry, Night Swim shows how a family, bound by heartache, learns to love again.

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  • Story Plant
  • Paperback
  • September 2013
  • 299 Pages
  • 9781611881059

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About Jessica Keener

Jessica Keener has been listed in The Pushcart Prize under “Outstanding Writers.” Her fiction has appeared most recently in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Night Train, and Wilderness House Literary Review. A recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Grant Program, and second prize in fiction from Redbook magazine, her feature articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, Design New England, O, The Oprah Magazine and other national publications. Night Swim is her debut novel.

Praise

Jessica Keener steps boldly into the terrain of Eugene O’Neill, conjuring up the pathologies and quirks of a besieged Boston family in stark, quivering detail that never entirely distracts us from the looming sense of crisis. This gripping first novel announces the arrival of a strong, distinct and fully evolved new voice.“—Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize winner, A Visit from the Goon Squad

An amazing new literary voice, Jessica Keener explores the fine-laced network of tangled familiar relations in language both bold and intricate. Night Swim is the deeply moving and devastatingly beautiful work of a fearless writer.“—Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

Jessica Keener has an ear for the nuances of family life and manages, in this book, a small miracle–describing, convincingly, a family suffering the rigidity and opaqueness of a small-scale tyrant, yet honoring his authority and treating his painful struggles with kindness. Keener’s heroine, a 16-year old girl impatient to achieve womanliness, is a marvel of curiosity, impulsiveness, and generosity. What a lovely book!“—C. Michael Curtis, Fiction Editor, The Atlantic