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Improvement
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About the Author

Joan Silber is the author of eight books of fiction. Her previous book, Fools (2013), was longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Other works include The Size of the World (2008), Ideas of Heaven (2004), Lucky Us (2001), In My Other Life (2000), In the City (1987) and Household Words (1980), winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award. She is also the author of The Art of Time in Fiction (2009). In 2018 she received the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the short story. She lives in New York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program.

Reviews

A novel of richness and wisdom and huge pleasure -- Kamila Shamsie * New York Times Book Review *
[Improvement] daisychains several related narratives into a rich and surprising whole...Silber's superb handling of time - that Alice Munro tribute isn't wide of the mark - draws the disparate lives into a unity, and makes this compressed novel feel mysteriously capacious. -- Anthony Quinn * Guardian *
Silber is the genuine article, a writer of such precision, intelligence and insight that she makes you gasp...The characterisation is fantastic and the dialogue pitch-perfect. -- Cressida Connolly * Literary Review *
Improvement is a major work of literature....I love [Silber's] prose even more than I love her unconventional narrative approach. The first story, written in the first person, seems to me like the perfect lesson in voice, and anyone trying to write or to teach writing should read it. Reyna, the narrator, is funny, shrewd, laconic, fatalistic, something of a fuckup, and refreshingly unbookish; there isn't a single line that lets the reader down, or that allows you to suspect even for a second that this person isn't real. -- Nick Hornby * The Believer *
Silber brings the skills of a short story writer to her novels, giving her characters enough space to breathe within the confines of the larger story, and every so often one will come across a jewel of a sentence that begs to be underlined or committed to memory. * Glasgow Herald *
A wise, impressive novel, utterly precise and unflinching in its portrayal of everyday human weakness, but full of kindness and hope. I loved this book. -- Sarah Waters
A wonderful novel about the unknown interconnectedness of us all in ways that are invisible but matter. -- Linda Grant
[I]t feels vital to love Silber's work. . . Now is the moment to appreciate that she is here, in our midst: our country's own Alice Munro. * Washington Post *
Without fuss or flourishes, Joan Silber weaves a remarkably patterned tapestry connecting strangers from around the world to a central tragic car accident. The writing here is funny and down-to-earth, the characters are recognizably fallible, and the message is quietly profound: We are not ever really alone, however lonely we feel. * Wall Street Journal, top fiction titles of 2017 *
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
An everyday masterpiece. * Newsday *
An accomplished, wise, humane book, generously graced with those fleeting but vivid moments - of puzzlement, vexation and love - in which the humanity of her characters shines through. -- Colin Barrett
Improvement has the intricate beauty of the rugs around which the story is woven. I admire Joan Silber's ability to braid the narratives of objects and people lost and found into a shapely story. -- Sarah Moss
An elegant, generous portrait of interconnected lives. * Tatler *
Silber excels at quick, sharp portraiture...an exploration of the hopes, pains and small successes of very different people making their uncertain way through life. * Times Literary Supplement *
This gentle, absorbing story glides along on frictionless, understated prose; it feels wholly natural and unforced, as if the characters are recounting their own experiences, shorn of any artifice or make-believe. * Country & Townhouse Magazine *

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