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Improvement

A Novel

List Price: $26.00

ON SALE: November 14, 2017 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.25, 256 pages | ISBN 9781619029606

“There is something so refreshing and genuine about this book, coming partly from the bumpy weave of its unpredictable story and partly from its sharply turned yet refreshingly unmannered prose. A winner.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

One of our most gifted writers of fiction returns with a bold and piercing novel about a young single mother living in Harlem, her eccentric aunt, and the decisions they make that have unexpected implications for the world around them.

Reyna knows her relationship with Boyd isn’t perfect, yet she sees him through a three-month stint at Riker’s Island, their bond growing tighter. Kiki, now settled in the East Village after a youth that took her to Turkey and other far-off places—and loves—around the world, admires her niece’s spirit but worries that motherhood to four-year-old Oliver might complicate a difficult situation. Little does she know that Boyd is pulling Reyna into a smuggling scheme, across state lines, violating his probation. When Reyna takes a step back, 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, repayment, and the possibility of generosity in the face of loss, Improvement is as intricately woven together as Kiki’s beloved Turkish rugs, as colorful 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 said “No other writer can make a few small decisions ripple across the globe, and across time, with more subtlety and power,” and Improvement is Silber’s most shining achievement.

JOAN SILBER is the author of the story collection Fools, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her first novel, Household Words, won the PEN/Hemingway Award. She has published five other books of fiction, including Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. She’s been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Agni, Ploughshares, Boulevard, and Epoch, among others. Joan teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Learn more about joansilber.net.

Praise

“There is something so refreshing and genuine about this book, coming partly from the bumpy weave of its unpredictable story and partly from its sharply turned yet refreshingly unmannered prose. A winner.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“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, author of Fates and Furies

“Silber weaves together character studies that examine love, money (and how to get it,) and the ripple effects of choices made. Silber’s decision to write events of great magnitude from everyday points of view lends realism and universality to her story. Fans of character-driven, literary fiction should be on the lookout for Improvement.” —Booklist

“Joan Silber is America’s own Alice Munro. The psychological acuity, the ambition, the breadth of time and space: it’s all there in Improvement, which demonstrates with great poignancy how our small decisions ramify out and touch the lives of people we don’t even know. This book is deep and true and riveting.” ―Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You

“In Improvement, Joan Silber’s skillful new novel, characters suffer from failed romances, moves to distant shores, and death, yet somehow, they manage to find each other in the end, and reconnect in deeply meaningful and satisfying ways. Silber is not only a gorgeous and masterful writer, she is also a wise and knowing one.” ―Lily Tuck, author of The Double Life of Liliane

“More than any writer I know, Joan Silber’s fiction makes sense of the randomness of our connections while honoring the essential mystery that drives our desires. Her sentences are so finely tuned that they miraculously convey her characters’ everyday foibles and ecstatic recognitions at the very same time. Improvement is a searching and profound novel by one of our masters.” ―Marisa Silver, author of Little Nothing and Mary Coin

“Subtle, sexy, brilliant in its unexpected connections and soulful generosity, this is an intensely satisfying novel.” ―Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and Archangel

“A new book by Joan Silber is a grand event in American literature. Silber has been creating a unique body of work that, in its immense authority and vision, puts her in the company of Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant. Improvement is a novel that explores love and ambition and the way it entangles, wounds, transforms vibrant characters across New York City, Virginia, Turkey, and Germany. This is a magnificent work about the complexity of human connection, full of remarkable insight and compassion.” ―Karen E. Bender, author of Refund, a finalist for the National Book Award

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