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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
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Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014 By the author of worldwide bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club: you can't choose your family, but they can make choices for you. Big, life-defining choices. Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Promotional Information

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014 By the author of worldwide bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club: you can't choose your family, but they can make choices for you. Big, life-defining choices. Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

About the Author

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections. The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book. Fowler's previous novel, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Her debut novel, Sarah Canary, was a New York Times Notable Book, as was her second novel, The Sweetheart Season. Fowler's short story collection Black Glass won the World Fantasy Award in 1999, and her collection What I Didn't See won the World Fantasy Award in 2011. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Fowler and her husband, who have two grown children and five grandchildren, live in Santa Cruz, California.

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections. The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book. Fowler's previous novel, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Her debut novel, Sarah Canary, was a New York Times Notable Book, as was her second novel, The Sweetheart Season.Fowler's short story collection Black Glass won the World Fantasy Award in 1999, and her collection What I Didn't See won the World Fantasy Award in 2011. We are all Completely Beside Ourselves won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Fowler and her husband, who have two grown children and five grandchildren, live in Santa Cruz, California.

Reviews

It's worth the trouble to avoid spoilers, including the ones on the back cover, for Fowler's marvelous new novel; let her introduce the troubled Cooke family before she springs the jaw-dropping surprise at the heart of the story. Youngest daughter Rosemary is a college student acting on dangerous impulses; her first connection with wild-child Harlow lands the two in jail. Rosemary and the FBI are both on the lookout for her brother Lowell, who ran away after their sister Fern vanished. Rosemary won't say right away what it was that left their mother in a crippling depression and their psychology professor father a bitter drunk, but she has good reasons for keeping quiet; what happens to Fern is completely shattering, reshaping the life of every member of the family. In the end, when Rosemary's mother tells her, "I wanted you to have an extraordinary life," it feels like a fairy-tale curse. But Rosemary's experience isn't only heartbreak; it's a fascinating basis for insight into memory, the mind, and human development. Even in her most broken moments, Rosemary knows she knows things that no one else can know about what it means to be a sister, and a human being. Fowler's (The Jane Austen Book Club) great accomplishment is not just that she takes the standard story of a family and makes it larger, but that the new space she's created demands exploration. Agent: Wendy Weil, the Wendy Weil Agency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club) has written a strong, unsettling novel that draws on true accounts of animal behaviorists raising chimps with infant children. Narrator Rosemary Cooke, now nearing 40, tells a heartbreaking story of her family and a pivotal event that has haunted her all her life. When Rosemary was a month old, her psychologist father brought a three-month-old chimp named Fern into the family to be raised as a sibling to Rosemary and her older brother, Lowell. This experiment, complete with interns moving in to record their observations, comes to an abrupt halt when Rosemary is five. Fern simply disappears, and Rosemary finds the loss of her simian playmate emotionally devastating. Rosemary struggles to understand and to accept that, innocent mistake or not, her actions were possibly responsible for Fern's being sent away. Taunted at school by the nickname "monkey girl" and later distressed by the sudden disappearance of Lowell, on the lam from the FBI, Rosemary fights her demons to alleviate the damage. -VERDICT Fowler explores the depths of human emotions and delivers a tragic love story that captures our hearts. [See Prepub Alert, 11/25/12.]-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get ... [Its] fresh diction and madcap plot bend the tone toward comedy, but it never mislays its solemn raison d'etre. Monkeyshines aside, this is a story of every family in which loss engraves relationships, truth is a soulful stalker and coming-of-age means facing down the mirror, recognizing the shape-shifting notion of self -- Barbara Kingsolver * New York Times Book Review *
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a dark cautionary tale hanging out, incognito-style, in what at first seems a traditional family narrative. It is anything but. This novel is deliciously jaunty in tone and disturbing in material. Karen Joy Fowler tells the story of how one animal-the animal of man-can simultaneously destroy and expand our notion of what is possible -- Alice Sebold
No contemporary writer creates characters more appealing, or examines them with greater acuity and forgiveness, than she does -- Michael Chabon
Fowler has given us the gift of a splendid novel. Not only is the story fascinating, moving, and beautifully written, but also it ripples with humor; its quirky characters include a puppet named Madame Defarge and a Seinfeldian assortment of apartment dwellers. Layered with a huge moral compass and enormous humanity, this portrait of a family one-fifth simian will, nevertheless, touch and delight every human * Boston Globe *
Hinges upon Rosemary's sharp voice, which at its best includes funny, self-aware asides such as an early reference to a character at a holiday dinner where she flippantly advises the reader, "Don't get attached to him; he's not really part of this story * LA Times *
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is that rare thing, a comic novel that wrestles seriously with serious moral questions ... Fowler knows how to make her story funny and sad and disturbing and revelatory by erecting a space in which her reader is allowed to feel all of that for herself * Salon *
So thought provoking on the topic of animal rights that it could alter your future decisions as a consumer. I don't want to say much about the plot of the book ... except to compare it to Ann Patchett's State of Wonder in terms of weaving a larger story of radical, scientific experimentation into a very personal woman's narrative * MSN *
Rosemary's voice is achingly memorable, and Fowler's intelligent discourse on science vs. compassion reshapes the traditional family novel into something more universally relevant... This brave, bold, shattering novel reminds us what it means to be human, in the best and worst sense * Miami Herald *
Halfway through Karen Joy Fowler's enthralling novel "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves," I was sort of beside myself, too, with that electric thrill of discovering a great book. I wanted to stay up all night to finish it, but I also wanted to stop and call all my book-loving friends immediately and blurt, "You have to read this book!" * Cleveland Plain Dealer *
[A]n unsettling, emotionally complex story that plumbs the mystery of our strange relationship with the animal kingdom - relatives included -- Ron Charles * Washington Post *
Karen Joy Fowler has written the book she's always had in her to write. With all the quiet strangeness of her amazing Sarah Canary, and all the breezy wit and skill of her beloved Jane Austen Book Club, and a new, urgent gravity, she has told the story of an American family. An unusual family-but aren't all families unusual? A very American, an only-in-America family-and yet an everywhere family, whose children, parents, siblings, love one another very much, and damage one another badly. Does the love survive the damage? Will human beings survive the damage they do to the world they love so much? This is a strong, deep, sweet novel -- Ursula K Le Guin
It's been years since I've felt so passionate about a book. When I finished at 3 a.m., I wept, then I woke up the next morning, reread the ending, and cried all over again -- Ruth Ozecki
A profound, moving and enchanting look at a very complex family. -- Anna Carey * Irish Times *
An astonishing achievement. Giant-stepping back and forth through the life of its put-upon narrator, Rosemary Cooke, the youngest of three siblings, the reader is treated to a wild ride of tragic hilarity, but one which only ever serves to heighten its beautiful, heartbreaking core... a genuinely stunning novel - certainly one of the year's finest. -- Billy O'Callaghan * Irish Examiner *
With all the pace of a thriller and the emotional pull of a romantic novel, this masterful work is intelligently written and will reel you in, hook, line and sinker. * The Lady *
My favourite book this year. -- Justine Carbery * Irish Independent *
Explosive, provocative, and thoughtful, but still very funny. I'm so glad to have discovered the author. -- Philippa Gregory * Mail on Sunday *
Karen Joy Fowler is a very fine novelist indeed. -- Alan Murrin * TLS *
The strength of Fowler's writing is its piercing evocation of the dynamics of family ... probing the intricacies of love and loss with brave humour -- Henry Hitchings * Financial Times *
Karen Joy Fowler's sixth novel examines what it means to be human, nonhuman and something in between. Using both reason and sentiment, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves holds a mirror up to reflect what we're really made of, both in what we do to each other and to other animals ... But this is no simplistic tub-thumping polemic: Fowler acknowledges the advances made and the treatments found - all thanks to primate research - for Alzheimer's, autism, Parkinson's. As Rosemary deadpans at the end: "Nobody's arguing these issues are easy." -- Elena Seymenliyska * Telegraph *
The most impressively original book I've read this year. -- Liz Nugent * Irish Times *
An original and spontaneous take on family that grabs you and doesn't let you go. -- Judy Blume * Elle *
One of the best novels I've read ever. It just destroyed me ... she's writing at the absolute top of her game -- Romola Garai

A novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get ... [Its] fresh diction and madcap plot bend the tone toward comedy, but it never mislays its solemn raison d'etre. Monkeyshines aside, this is a story of Everyfamily in which loss engraves relationships, truth is a soulful stalker and coming-of-age means facing down the mirror, recognizing the shape-shifting notion of self -- Barbara Kingsolver New York Times Book Review We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a dark cautionary tale hanging out, incognito-style, in what at first seems a traditional family narrative. It is anything but. This novel is deliciously jaunty in tone and disturbing in material. Karen Joy Fowler tells the story of how one animal-the animal of man-can simultaneously destroy and expand our notion of what is possible -- Alice Sebold No contemporary writer creates characters more appealing, or examines them with greater acuity and forgiveness, than she does -- Michael Chabon Fowler has given us the gift of a splendid novel. Not only is the story fascinating, moving, and beautifully written, but also it ripples with humor; its quirky characters include a puppet named Madame Defarge and a Seinfeldian assortment of apartment dwellers. Layered with a huge moral compass and enormous humanity, this portrait of a family one-fifth simian will, nevertheless, touch and delight every human Boston Globe Hinges upon Rosemary's sharp voice, which at its best includes funny, self-aware asides such as an early reference to a character at a holiday dinner where she flippantly advises the reader, "Don't get attached to him; he's not really part of this story LA Times We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is that rare thing, a comic novel that wrestles seriously with serious moral questions ... Fowler knows how to make her story funny and sad and disturbing and revelatory by erecting a space in which her reader is allowed to feel all of that for herself Salon So thought provoking on the topic of animal rights that it could alter your future decisions as a consumer. I don't want to say much about the plot of the book ... except to compare it to Ann Patchett's State of Wonder in terms of weaving a larger story of radical, scientific experimentation into a very personal woman's narrative MSN Rosemary's voice is achingly memorable, and Fowler's intelligent discourse on science vs. compassion reshapes the traditional family novel into something more universally relevant... This brave, bold, shattering novel reminds us what it means to be human, in the best and worst sense Miami Herald Halfway through Karen Joy Fowler's enthralling novel "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves," I was sort of beside myself, too, with that electric thrill of discovering a great book. I wanted to stay up all night to finish it, but I also wanted to stop and call all my book-loving friends immediately and blurt, "You have to read this book!" Cleveland Plain Dealer [A]n unsettling, emotionally complex story that plumbs the mystery of our strange relationship with the animal kingdom - relatives included -- Ron Charles Washington Post Karen Joy Fowler has written the book she's always had in her to write. With all the quiet strangeness of her amazing Sarah Canary, and all the breezy wit and skill of her beloved Jane Austen Book Club, and a new, urgent gravity, she has told the story of an American family. An unusual family-but aren't all families unusual? A very American, an only-in-America family-and yet an everywhere family, whose children, parents, siblings, love one another very much, and damage one another badly. Does the love survive the damage? Will human beings survive the damage they do to the world they love so much? This is a strong, deep, sweet novel -- Ursula K Le Guin It's been years since I've felt so passionate about a book. When I finished at 3 a.m., I wept, then I woke up the next morning, reread the ending, and cried all over again -- Ruth Ozecki A profound, moving and enchanting look at a very complex family. -- Anna Carey Irish Times An astonishing achievement. Giant-stepping back and forth through the life of its put-upon narrator, Rosemary Cooke, the youngest of three siblings, the reader is treated to a wild ride of tragic hilarity, but one which only ever serves to heighten its beautiful, heartbreaking core... a genuinely stunning novel - certainly one of the year's finest. -- Billy O'Callaghan Irish Examiner With all the pace of a thriller and the emotional pull of a romantic novel, this masterful work is intelligently written and will reel you in, hook, line and sinker. The Lady My favourite book this year. -- Justine Carbery Irish Independent Explosive, provocative, and thoughtful, but still very funny. I'm so glad to have discovered the author. -- Philippa Gregory Mail on Sunday Karen Joy Fowler is a very fine novelist indeed. -- Alan Murrin TLS The strength of Fowler's writing is its piercing evocation of the dynamics of family ... probing the intricacies of love and loss with brave humour -- Henry Hitchings Financial Times Karen Joy Fowler's sixth novel examines what it means to be human, nonhuman and something in between. Using both reason and sentiment, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves holds a mirror up to reflect what we're really made of, both in what we do to each other and to other animals ... But this is no simplistic tub-thumping polemic: Fowler acknowledges the advances made and the treatments found - all thanks to primate research - for Alzheimer's, autism, Parkinson's. As Rosemary deadpans at the end: "Nobody's arguing these issues are easy." -- Elena Seymenliyska Telegraph

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