A rich, raw, masterfully resonant novel about the essential interconnectedness of humanity - the butterfly effect in bold, beautiful book form.
As a young woman, Kiki lived and loved in Turkey, but returned to America after not taking to the isolated, ramshackle farm she and her husband moved to. Some thirty years on - single, widely read, worldly wise, but endowed with an endearing lack of pretension - Kiki connects deeper with her niece Reyna. When Reyna pulls out of driving for a criminal scheme her ex-con boyfriend is involved in, her act of defiance sets a succession of life-changing events in motion, waves that surge far and transform lives around the globe.
The structure deftly weaves together different sets of people who are loosely linked by strands of shared experiences and events, such as the German travellers Kiki met on her former husband’s farm in Turkey. The stories of the various narrators are powerful, mesmeric and smoothly readable - I shall be seeking out everything this author has written.
'Improvement is a major work of literature.' - Nick Hornby, The Believer Reyna knows her relationship with Boyd isn't perfect, yet as she visits him throughout his three-month stint in prison, their bond grows tighter. Kiki, now settled in New York after a journey that took her to Turkey and around the world, admires her niece's spirit but worries that she always picks the wrong man. Little does she know that the otherwise honourable Boyd is pulling Reyna into a scheme which violates his probation. When Reyna ultimately decides to remove herself for the sake of her four-year-old child, her small act of resistance sets into motion a tapestry of events that affect the lives of loved ones and strangers around them. A novel that examines conviction, connection and the possibility of generosity in the face of loss, Improvement is as intricately woven together as Kiki's beloved Turkish rugs and as colourful as the tattoos decorating Reyna's body, with narrative twists and turns as surprising and unexpected as the lives all around us. The Boston Globe says of Joan Silber 'No other writer can make a few small decisions ripple across the globe, and across time, with more subtlety and power.' Improvement is Silber's most shining achievement yet.
|Publication date:||3rd October 2019|
|Publisher:||Allen & Unwin an imprint of Atlantic Books|
|Primary Genre||Modern and Contemporary Fiction|
Closing date: 07/10/2021
Improvement has the intricate beauty of the rugs around which the story is woven. I admire Joan Silber's ability to braid the narratives of objects and people lost and found into a shapely story. -- Sarah Moss An accomplished, wise, humane book, generously graced with those fleeting but vivid moments - of puzzlement, vexation and love - in which the humanity of her characters shines through. -- Colin Barrett An everyday masterpiece. - Newsday
I love all of Joan Silber's work for her mastery of character, her ferocious and searching compassion, and her elegant lines that make the mind hum for hours. Improvement is so crisp and resonant a novel that it made me forget the chaos of life around me; a feat for which I'm truly grateful. -- Lauren Groff Without fuss or flourishes, Joan Silber weaves a remarkably patterned tapestry connecting strangers from around the world to a central tragic car accident. The writing here is funny and down-to-earth, the characters are recognizably fallible, and the message is quietly profound: We are not ever really alone, however lonely we feel. - Wall Street Journal, top fiction titles of 2017
[I]t feels vital to love Silber's work. . . Now is the moment to appreciate that she is here, in our midst: our country's own Alice Munro. - Washington Post
A wonderful novel about the unknown interconnectedness of us all in ways that are invisible but matter. -- Linda Grant A wise, impressive novel, utterly precise and unflinching in its portrayal of everyday human weakness, but full of kindness and hope. I loved this book. -- Sarah Waters A novel of richness and wisdom and huge pleasure -- Kamila Shamsie - New York Times Book Review
Joan Silber is the author of eight books of fiction. Her previous book, Fools (2013), was longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Other works include The Size of the World (2008), Ideas of Heaven (2004), Lucky Us (2001), In My Other Life (2000), In the City (1987) and Household Words (1980), winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award. She is also the author of The Art of Time in Fiction (2009). In 2018 she received the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the short story. She lives in New York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Warren Wilson MFA ...More About Joan Silber