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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Original edition (June 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393334899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393334890
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. War, love and culture shock take various forms, but the size of the world, in Silber's magnificent fiction, is often no larger than the distance to the person in bed beside you. Like NBA finalist Ideas of Heaven (2005), Silber's sixth work of fiction consists of interlinked stories where minor or passing characters in one piece become the narrators of others, roaming from WWII Sicily to roaring '20s Siam, and from Vietnam-era Mexico to 9/11-era Bloomington, Ind. All six stories turn on the tensions between home, exile and otherness, but to follow any of the threads would be to give away the subtle connections among the characters, from a male Sicilian-American postcolonialist professor from Hoboken to a Florida woman named Kit who can sum up an old boyfriend as the sort of boy who seemed startled when having sex. At the time his awe and confusion were endearing. The frankness of Silber's characters is deliciously at odds with the delicacy of their observations as they absorb children, affairs, fractured and repaired families and early death in environments familiar and alien to them. The characters' many lifetimes pass with a page-turning effortlessness that belies their intense, moving depths. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Silber allows readers to see life as intimately knowable yet essentially mysterious.” (Howard Norman - Washington Post)

“Starred Review. In Silber’s magnificent fiction . . . the characters’ lifetimes pass with a page-turning effortlessness that belies their intense, moving depths.” (Publishers Weekly)

More About the Author

Joan Silber is the author of six books of fiction, most recently The Size of the World (Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Prize in Fiction) and Ideas of Heaven (Finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize). Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, two O. Henry Prize collections, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction. She's known for stories that leap over long blocks of time, and this led her to write The Art of Time in Fiction. She lives in New York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Her website is joansilber.net.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jean Brandt on August 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Silber's novel, told in a series of short stories, brilliantly does just what the title promises.
The size of the world expands and contracts through the voices of Silber's characters. With great skill Silber weaves the lives of her characters together in such a way that, what reads like a collection of short stories, evolves into a connection which makes for a wonderful novel.
Told in the first person, each character becomes a personality in their own right, inhabiting their own geological location and their own era, yet Silber manages to connect one with another.
A wonderful story....beautifully told !
This book came to me through LibraryThing Early Reviewer's program. Being able to "preview" ARC copies is so much fun, it helps so much to be able to pass on "word of mouth" recommendations. This book gets a big thumbs up !
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cary B. Barad on August 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Tightly drawn stories in exotic milieus, with elements of humor, danger and drama. These narratives are densely packed with detail which sometimes makes for slow reading. But they're well worth the effort.
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Format: Hardcover
Silber makes a unique argument in The Size of the World, framing her narrative around the tangential relationships of a number of characters, beginning in the early days of the Vietnam War, when two engineers from Arizona are sent to troubleshoot problems with planes that have been lost for no apparent reason. Like fish out of water, Ernst and Toby apply their specific skills to the problem, but Toby, soon enamored of Vietnam, then Thailand, falls in love, marries and spends the following years in Thailand, pursuing a series of jobs. Left behind in America is an old girlfriend, Kit, who takes up the next thread of the novel, handing her tale off and increasing the scope of the story to 1924 Siam, a carefully structured theme laying the groundwork for the random connection that follow.

In what is essentially a collection of related short stories, Corrine's adventure begins when she leaves Florida after the death of her parents in 1924 to join Owen, her older brother, who travels the country in search of tin for a trading company. It is Owen, sophisticated and uncommitted, who introduces Corey to a country that inevitably seduces her, unable to make herself leave even after Owen returns to America. These particular characters take us through the important events of the following decades, the stock market crash in America, two world wars and a colonial presence in Siam that is finally on the wane. Ranging from Vietnam and Thailand, Italy and Mexico, Florida, New Jersey and San Francisco, Silber deftly connects her protagonists to time and place, the evolution of political change and the ties that bind one family to another.
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