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The World Without You: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – April 9, 2013

3.7 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Guest Review: Hannah Tinti

Hannah Tinti

Hannah Tinti is the author of Animal Crackers and The Good Thief, winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and a New York Times Notable Book of the year.

Joshua Henkin is an expert at capturing the complicated dynamics and intricate nuances of family relationships, examining the bonds that bind and fray between husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, as well as parents and children—first in his novels Swimming Across the Hudson and Matrimony, and now with The World Without You.

Set in 2005, over the Fourth of July holiday, The World Without You follows the Frankel family as they gather at their summer home in the Berkshires to memorialize Leo, their youngest son, who was killed while working as a journalist in Iraq (in a situation reminiscent of Daniel Pearl’s 2002 murder in Pakistan). One year after Leo’s death, his wife is taking the first steps towards a new relationship, his parents Marilyn and David are on the brink of divorce, and his sisters are struggling too: Clarissa with infertility, Noelle (a born-again Orthodox Jew) with her identity, and Lily with the anger she is carrying over the loss of her brother. As the Frankel family takes their first, tentative steps out of mourning, each tries to find a new place in a world, while understanding that Leo’s death has changed them, and their family, forever.

The World Without You asks important questions: how do we move on after losing someone we love? And how do we love again? Joshua Henkin, that giving-tree of a writer, skillfully leads us through the ups and downs of his characters’ emotional worlds, understanding that moments of kindness can refill us with hope, and that family is a bond that can weather any storm.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Insightful. . . . Poignant. . . . Elegant.”
The New York Times Book Review

“A wonderful novel. . . . I just love it.”
—Anne Lamott, The Miami Herald

—O, The Oprah Magazine

“A keenly observed and compassionate novel. . . . Tenderness spills from these pages.”
Entertainment Weekly

“[A] densely detailed and touching portrait.”

“[Henkin] grounds his novel in both time and place, creating a living, breathing world. . . . Gorgeously written.”
The Boston Globe

“Few American novelists, living or dead, have ever been as good as Henkin at drawing people.”
—Commentary Magazine

“Intimate and insightful. . . . Reminds us that families are icebergs, with nine-tenths of their emotions just below the surface, capable of wreaking havoc when struck.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“Witty, poignant, and heartfelt.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“In the course of [a] long weekend, old and new tensions . . . bubble to the surface. It could be the plot of a Chekhov play or a Woody Allen movie. But on this classic narrative scaffolding, Joshua Henkin develops a painfully contemporary situation. . . . The skill with which Henkin explores the points of view and personae of his ensemble cast is masterful.”

Vanity Fair

“Henkin is a writer of voluminous heart, humanity, and talent.”
—Julia Glass, author of The Widower’s Tale

“Masterful . . . . Here are Tanglewood concerts overheard, fireflies, skinny-dipping, an intense tennis game, fireworks, jalapeno-lime corn on the cob and white gazpacho. Henkin gets all the details just right. Think ‘The Big Chill,’ family style.”
—The New York Jewish Week

“Pleasingly old-fashioned. . . . [A] warm-hearted novel.”
—The Washington Post

“A triumph and an important novel about America.”
—Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

“In 2005, if a novelist had published a book that hinged on the murder of a Jewish American journalist by Islamic terrorists in Iraq, it would have been read as a political novel, a war novel, a post-9/11 novel—and, of course, a roman a clef about Daniel Pearl. . . . Yet the passage of time has made it possible for Henkin to turn this headline-news premise into a book that is quiet, inward-turning, and largely apolitical. . . . Henkin is a novelist of distinguished gifts.”

“An immeasurably moving masterpiece.”
—Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers

“Henkin takes no sides in his novel. He simply presents his characters as they are, as they think, as they feel, how they interact and lets it all reveal whatever it may. . . . A novel for mature readers—those who like fiction providing insight into how people actually live.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

“[Resembles] Richard Ford’s luminescent novel The Sportswriter. . . . Wonderful. . . . Powerful.”
The Rumpus

“The American family in crisis has long represented rich source material for writers, from Hawthorne to Morrison. In his deeply felt new novel, Joshua Henkin offers his contemporary contribution. . . . [Characters] leap uncensored off the page as powerful and fully realized human beings, rather than types. . . . Heartfelt.”
The Miami Herald

“Marvelous on the solitudes that exist even within the strongest and most compassionate of families.”
—Jim Shepard, author of You Think That’s Bad

 “Gives us a welcome portrait of the repercussions of faraway wars on people who usually consider themselves to be spectators. . . . Compassionate and beguiling.”
—NPR Books

 “Point this one out to contemporary fiction fans of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, or the works of Rick Moody, Richard Russo, Philip Roth, and John Updike.”
—Library Journal


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307277186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277183
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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