Manhattan Beach

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan ( us this historical fiction set in New York in the first half of the 20th century. In this novel her focus moves from time to water, which is shown to have the power both to heal and to destroy. Anna Kerrigan, the novel’s central figure, trains as a diver, trawling the bottom of New York Harbour to explore a ‘landscape of lost objects’,  make repairs to World War II battleships, and finally search for a corpse. Manhattan Beach itself plunges into the past to discover what lies beneath the surface of our own personal worlds. 
It begins on a chilly afternoon in 1934 when 11-year-old Anna accompanies her father, Eddie, to visit the gangster Dexter Styles in his Manhattan Beach mansion. Eddie is a ‘bagman’—’the sap who ferries a sack containing something (money, of course, but it wasn’t his business to know) between men who should not rightly associate.’  Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and the dealings between her father and Styles. When we next see them, it’s 1942. Anna, now 19, is working at a tedious job in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, inspecting tiny ship parts with a micrometer. After a year at Brooklyn College, she’s helping to support her mother and sister Lydia. Eddie disappeared five years earlier without saying goodbye: ‘The truth had arrived gradually, like nightfall: a recognition, when she caught herself awaiting his return, that she’d waited days, then weeks, then months—and he’d still not come.’ Eating lunch on the pier one day, Anna catches her first glimpse of a diver descending from one of the barges and feels ‘a seismic rearrangement within herself.’ Longing to walk along the bottom of the sea, she begs the lieutenant in charge to let her try out for the job.   
The plot develops when Anna chances to meet Styles at a nightclub. It is from that point on she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, and the reasons he might have been murdered.
Enjoy this beautifully written noir thriller. It will certainly appeal to anyone who appreciates a wealth of historical detail, and may well represent the talented Jennifer Egan at the top of her game. 

Check if this well written new fiction is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at



448 pages in Corsair

First published 2017

ISBN  978-1472150875


Jennifer Egan


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