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The Futures Hardcover – January 17, 2017
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From the Publisher
Anna Pitoniak in conversation with her editor, Carina Guiterman
CG: Why did you set The Futures during the 2008 financial crash?
AP: I remember very vividly where I was during the financial crisis. My college roommate and I stayed up late, that Sunday night in September 2008, speculating about what might happen. Many of my friends already had jobs lined up at various banks, but when we woke up the next morning, those banks no longer existed. It was the first time in my adult life that I was aware of living through history: the world had changed overnight. When I began to imagine the characters in The Futures, I always knew the setting would be 2008. I think that times of instability can test us, can reveal uncomfortable truths. I wanted to explore what it would be like for a young couple—already destabilized by the transition from college to the real world—to be tested in this way, at this particularly fraught moment in time.
CG: How has your day job as a book editor made the process of publishing your own book different?
AP: I went into the publication of The Futures knowing how the process would unfold, thanks to my job as an editor: the stages of production, design, marketing, publicizing, etc. All of that was familiar to me. But I am surprised by how different it feels to have my own work published, as opposed to the work of someone I’ve edited. When it’s your own writing, out there in the world, the emotional intensity is just that much higher. I finally understand how all of my writers feel during their publications!
CG: You write in both Julia and Evan’s voices; was one harder to master than the other? Do your loyalties lie more with Julia or Evan?
AP: Both were challenging, in different ways. Julia’s voice came to me sooner; she is perhaps more introspective, so when I was writing her sections, I had access to a different range of emotions. Evan’s voice was more elusive. His narration is more straightforward, but that didn’t make it easier; sometimes it meant his thoughts were expressed with more subtlety. My loyalties lie with both of them, or maybe with neither of them. They are both flawed. I care for both of them deeply, but I couldn’t rescue them from their own mistakes. I think my loyalties lie with reality: letting Julia and Evan behave as real people do, with all of their anxieties and dreams and self-sabotaging behavior.
CG: Do you see yourself in either Julia or Evan?
AP: There is a little bit of me in both of them. Like Evan, I grew up in a small town in British Columbia, and I remember what it felt like to move to New York City with that outsider mentality. And like Julia, many of my friends had jobs but I graduated from college with no clear plan of what to do next, and I was disoriented by how wide-open the future appeared.
CG: What would you like to stay in readers’ minds long after they finish reading the book?
AP: This book is about Evan and Julia navigating their specific situations, but my hope is that it resonates with those who might have nothing in common with Evan and Julia. For those going through that same coming-of-age moment, and for those who are long past that moment, I hope it offers a reminder of how strange and difficult that time can be—and that we can’t be expected to have all the answers figured out. That, in fact, it’s sometimes better not to have all the answers figured out.
"An emotional page-turner."
"Boy meets girl. They fall in love and everything's picture perfect. Until the financial crisis hits and boy gets involved in a shady deal at work. This read is The Big Short meets Serendipity."―theSkimm
"The smart, fast-paced book calls to mind a period when bright young things moved to New York to work for Goldman Sachs and not Google ... Part of a larger conversation about coming of age that includes novels like Adelle Waldman's The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. and Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children."―Town & Country
"An especially good [novel]...about the things you believe in when you're young, and what breaks your heart along the way."
―Refinery29, "One of the 2017 Books We're Most Excited About"
"[A] debut novel written by and for the literary millennial ... Pitoniak maintains her keen eye for the universal insecurities facing her generation today, from romantic uncertainties and the relative benefits and downsides of hedge fund and nonprofit jobs to the emotional effort it requires to negotiate the predetermined facts of one's upbringing with the person one chooses to become."―Harper's Bazaar, "13 Books You Need to Read in January"
"Wall Street meets Girls."
"Acutely drawn ... We were transported back to our younger selves and that universal feeling of trying to make sense of an uncertain future ahead ... Already looking forward to what Anna Pitoniak will write next."―goop
"Pitoniak's debut focuses on that time of life that is at turns both exhilarating and terrifying: right after getting out of college, when you're forced to confront who you are and who you want to be, when you know life is just beginning, but you're also starting to feel like many of your options are fading away."―Nylon, "Best New Books of 2017"
"Following in the footsteps of classic debut novels like Rona Jaffe's The Best of Everything and Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City, Pitoniak charts a tumultuous period in New York City history that transforms a group of recent college grads in ways they never anticipated. As in Kristopher Jansma's latest, Why We Came to the City, also set in the heady days of 2008, Pitoniak's ingenuous youths are helpless against the risk and potential they perceive lurking around each corner."
"The Futures stands out for its beautiful writing, emotional depth and evocative feel."
―New York Post
"St. Elmo's Fire for millennials."
"Pitoniak's inspired debut centers on two recent college grads who move to New York City together during the 2008 recession and watch their relationship change drastically."―InStyle
"The Futures takes place on the cusp of the 2008 market crash, and so perfectly encapsulates that time of life when everything was just beginning, when you had no idea who you were or where you were going."―Popsugar
"Pitoniak's assured debut explores the cost of realizing-and misinterpreting-one's dreams ... Navigating terrain-love and youth, college and city life-that's often oversimplified, Pitoniak eschews cliche for nuanced characterization and sharply observed detail. Evan and Julia ring true as 20-somethings, but Pitoniak's novel also speaks to anyone who has searched among possible futures for the way back to what Julia calls 'the person I had been all along.'"―Publishers Weekly
"The Futures transports us to that post-college moment when it seems like you have all the options in the world but no clue about which ones to choose. Pitoniak weaves an unflinchingly honest tale of two people trying to navigate expectations and learning to live with their own mistakes. A compelling and memorable debut."―J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of The Engagements
"Anna Pitoniak perfectly captures the confusion and heartbreak of those post-college years, when even the strongest among us falter in the face of our own desires. The Futures reminded me of Brightness Falls, Jay McInerney's great novel of New York, for Pitoniak, like McInerney, possesses an instinctual understanding of the mechanisms that make the city run and a knack for embracing her characters' thornier sides. Utterly enjoyable."―Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
"Pitoniak keeps the pace moving at a steady clip ... Pitoniak's well-plotted, character-driven, interior-focused novel captures the knowable angst of the unknowable possibilities of modern young adulthood."―Booklist
"Pitoniak expertly captures both the excitement and the oppressive darkness of being young and at sea in New York City, the unsettingly thin line between freedom and free fall ... Deeply empathetic-and always engaging. A bittersweet coming-of-age drama and a portrait of an era."―Kirkus
"Tender and wise, The Futures feels like a true story. Pitoniak's voice is stylish and authentic, and perfect for exploring this rich territory: youth and love and New York City."―Karen Thompson Walker, New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles
"Mesmerizing ... The novel's alternating structure is hypnotic. Pitoniak is an absolute ventriloquist, completely inhabiting the voices of the two protagonists--their ambitions, anxieties, pettiness, sadness, and great love for one another. I couldn't put it down."―Sunil Yapa, author of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
"The Futures is a love story and so much more. It captures the heartaches and exhilarations of early adulthood with a keen eye, a big heart, superb writing and an artfully intricate plot. This is a book for people of all ages looking for a place in the world, and Anna Pitoniak is a young novelist with some serious writing chops."―Meg Mitchell Moore, author of The Admissions
"Anna Pitoniak's debut novel, The Futures, is the perfect cocktail of smart prose, heartwarming characters, and unmatched savvy about modern city life. Like The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. or A Fortunate Age, this book will amaze and elate you."―Kristopher Jansma, author of Why We Came to the City
"Pitoniak is a sure-footed, fluid writer ... Her low-key, confessional style is well-suited to her focus: the anxiety that attends the transition from college to the work force, from structure to structureless."―Globe & Mail
"A charming story and damn fine debut. Tightly told, entirely readable ... An engaging story with elegant language and a cast of strong off-suit characters who temper the two-person narrative perfectly ... Pitoniak's honest portrayal honours both better-known and under-told truths of life after graduation."―National Post
"Pitoniak ratchets up the suspense as she explores love and big finance ... [With] savvy plotting and nimble shifts in perspective ... Pitoniak inhabits both characters convincingly, displaying an uncanny ability to convey their dissimilar and sometimes clashing impressions of the same events."―Toronto Star
About the Author
Anna Pitoniak is an editor of fiction and nonfiction at Random House. She graduated from Yale in 2010, where she majored in English and was an editor at the Yale Daily News. She grew up in British Columbia.
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Top Customer Reviews
With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan becomes involved in a high-stakes deal at work–a deal that, despite the assurances of his Machiavellian boss, begins to seem more than slightly suspicious. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past who offers a glimpse of a different kind of life. As the economy craters, and as Evan and Julia spin into their separate orbits, they each find that they are capable of much more–good and bad–than they’d ever imagined.
My Thoughts: As I began reading The Futures, I was drawn in by the NYC setting, the financial crisis that would soon be erupting all around the characters, and that ongoing sense of actually living the story along with them.
Julia and Evan could be any young couple starting out, fresh from university with all their ideals guiding them. Julia came from a privileged life with a well-to-do family in Boston, ready to pick up the pieces for her if she ran into problems. A sense of entitlement certainly contributed to how she handled the events that unfolded over the months following the beginning of their seemingly perfect life.
Evan had a different kind of upbringing. From a small town in British Columbia, he depended upon his employment to maintain his visa, so he was in a more tenuous position. But he, too, had the strong ideals of a new graduate, and he certainly had the naivete of someone from small town life set down in the midst of a sophisticated and high-pressured environment.
It wasn’t surprising that Julia and Evan had a failure to communicate, partially due to their parallel lives. Evan worked until late at night, and Julia, with a shorter work day and time on her hands, fell prey to a burgeoning tendency to feel sorry for herself for not having the attention she thought she deserved.
When secrets and betrayals brought their relationship to a crashing halt, Julia escaped back to Boston, while Evan tried to keep his head down at work, as if hoping that everything would blow over eventually.
Alternately narrated by Julia and Evan, the reader has the opportunity to live inside their individual heads throughout the story, feeling empathy for each of them, while wondering how they would extricate themselves from their bad choices. Definitely engaging, I could not put this book down. 5 stars.