& Sons

& Sons

A Novel

eBook - 2013
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The Washington Post * The New Yorker * Esquire * The Austin Chronicle * Kansas City Star * The Guardian (UK) * BookPage * Flavorwire * Bookish

"[A] big, brilliant novel." -- The New York Times Book Review

Who is A. N. Dyer? & Sons is a literary masterwork for readers of The Art of Fielding, The Emperor's Children, and Wonder Boys --the panoramic, deeply affecting story of an iconic novelist, two interconnected families, and the heartbreaking truths that fiction can hide.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

The funeral of Charles Henry Topping on Manhattan's Upper East Side would have been a minor affair (his two-hundred-word obit in The New York Times notwithstanding) but for the presence of one particular mourner: the notoriously reclusive author A. N. Dyer, whose novel Ampersand stands as a classic of American teenage angst. But as Andrew Newbold Dyer delivers the eulogy for his oldest friend, he suffers a breakdown over the life he's led and the people he's hurt and the novel that will forever endure as his legacy. He must gather his three sons for the first time in many years--before it's too late.

So begins a wild, transformative, heartbreaking week, as witnessed by Philip Topping, who, like his late father, finds himself caught up in the swirl of the Dyer family. First there's son Richard, a struggling screenwriter and father, returning from self-imposed exile in California. In the middle lingers Jamie, settled in Brooklyn after his twenty-year mission of making documentaries about human suffering. And last is Andy, the half brother whose mysterious birth tore the Dyers apart seventeen years ago, now in New York on spring break, determined to lose his virginity before returning to the prestigious New England boarding school that inspired Ampersand . But only when the real purpose of this reunion comes to light do these sons realize just how much is at stake, not only for their father but for themselves and three generations of their family.

In this daring feat of fiction, David Gilbert establishes himself as one of our most original, entertaining, and insightful authors. & Sons is that rarest of treasures: a startlingly imaginative novel about families and how they define us, and the choices we make when faced with our own mortality.


"Big, brilliant, and terrifically funny." --Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins

"Extraordinary." -- Time

"Smart and savage . . . Seductive and ripe with both comedy and heartbreak, [ & Sons ] made me reconsider my stance on . . . the term 'instant classic.'" --NPR

"A big, ambitious book about fathers and sons, Oedipal envy and sibling rivalry, and the dynamics between art and life . . . [ & Sons ] does a wonderful job of conjuring up its characters' memories . . . in layered, almost Proustian detail." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"[A] smart, engrossing saga . . . Perfect for fans of Jonathan Franzen or Claire Messud." --Entertainment Weekly

"Audacious . . . [one of the year's] most dazzlingly smart, fully realized works of fiction." -- The Washington Post

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2013.
ISBN: 9780812993974
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From the critics

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Jan 21, 2018

I would prefer this book (& Sons), in large print if available.

Ed Ellis/ South Bend


TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

& Sons is a multi-layered novel, and is probably best enjoyed at a slow pace, among readers who take time to dissect its many meanings. That being said, it can be an overwhelming novel. Readers needing constant movement may give up on this novel before reaching its end. If you enjoy beautifully constructed prose and interesting characters, stick with it. It'll pay off.

Apr 13, 2016

It took me a long time to read this book. I wanted to finish it to see if anything happens, or if any truths are revealed, or if I would learn some life lesson. For me it was a month of on/off reading I could have done something else with. The title is coy, and is meant to refer to the great coming-of-age novel 'Ampersand' written by the main character, Andrew N. Dyer, He, however is not the narrator here. That goes to various sons, both his own three and Philip, the son of his best and oldest friend who has just died. Themes galore in this book - all the relationships between fathers and sons that you can imagine, with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure. Themes galore in this book - all the relationships between fathers and sons that you can imagine, with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure. It appears that the author has lots to say about everything, and didn't quite know how to prioritize. Many people seem to have liked this book so I am in the minority, but a slog it was and I won't read anything else of his.

Dec 06, 2014

A VERY tough read. The author bounces all over the place, not only from paragraph to paragraph, but even within the paragraph, hitting multiple topics, events & timelines.
My impression is that he enjoys showing off with his clever writing style, as if he's living in the same privileged neighborhood as his characters.
I don't know how I read the entire thing.

Aug 22, 2013

Oh, the things about & Sons that drove me bananas — the clunky omniscient narrator, the whole book-within-a-book thing, and the one-dimensional female characters. In this 450-page dramedy about fathers and sons, a crotchety reclusive writer named A.N. Dyer engineers a reunion with his estranged adult children and his illegitimate teenage son, hoping they’ll bond the bonds of brotherly love before he up and dies. (Dyer! See what he did there?) But before I knew what was happening, I found myself caring about the Dyer boys in the same way I cared whether Joey would pick Dawson or Pacey on The WB each week, and I couldn’t wait to get back in the car every morning to tune into the Dyers’ next Upper East Side hijinks. The pages are filled with charming literary vignettes, and if you make it halfway, you’ll get to a full blown science fiction twist that should be a train wreck but somehow isn’t. I actually kind of love this book a little bit because of it, and I’m not telling if the twist is zombies or not.

Aug 17, 2013

Reminded me why I read books. Beautifully written.

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