Joshua Henkin’s “The World Without You”July 4th, 2012 at 4:56 pm ET
Brooklyn-based author Joshua Henkin, director of the Brooklyn College MFA program (and someone I know from years ago), was kind enough to send me a copy of his recently released novel, The World Without You, and I just finished it today.
Joshua Henkin is a comfortable storyteller. The story — a family of sisters returned home to their childhood summer home, a year after the sudden death of a beloved family member in a war zone — is largely a reflective and introspective one, but it held my attention, and didn’t ever feel “stuck.” And there are frequent moments of surprise and delight in Henkin’s prose.
The book reminded me of Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters, which I read earlier this year — not just because of the superficial similarities (somewhat estranged sisters, with different emotional states and relationship histories, coming home to a small town at a moment of family crisis), but also because, as Brown did, Henkin does a remarkably good job of capturing the subtleties of character. The very different motivations and emotional burdens of all the members of a large family were well individuated in the course of The World Without You, without making the book feel overly dense or difficult to follow, and by the end I was feeling some special empathy for everyone in the broad cast of characters.
Indeed, I came to the end feeling satisfied but also feeling like I wouldn’t have minded it if the book had been longer. If Henkin hasn’t completely tired of this family, I’d be interested to read more about them someday.
For more about The World Without You, here’s Joshua Henkin’s recent interview with The Rumpus.ShareThis