for the Schroder page:
New York Times Notable Book
Shortlisted for The Folio Prize (UK)
Publisher’s Weekly 25 Best Books of 2013
Washington Post Notable Fiction of 2013
Cosmopolitan 22 Best Books of the Year
Amazon, 100 Best Books of 2013
Identity - are you born yourself or is yourself a construction? Can you convey who you really are?
Love - marital, familial, how does it survive a world that largely seems to work against it?
History - how does the past echo through generations, contained as it is in the memory and biology of successive generations?
-Schroder [UPDATED DESCRIPTION FOR AMITY]
Eric Schroder, our handsome, optimistic, but deluded and flawed narrator, has taken his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, on a summer road trip. They sing songs, they swim, they eat ice-cream, and they don't come back. The road trip becomes and accidental kidnap, and Eric winds up in a correctional facility, writing to his estranged wife, attempting to explain his actions and his bizarre behavior during the course of their marriage.
This is a novel about the profound, agonized love a parent feels -- and what happens when that love is threatened.
Schroder: Reading Guide Questions
- Have you ever told a lie that grew beyond your control? What did you decide to do when the lie became more than you could handle?
- Schroder is written as a confessional letter from Eric to his wife, Laura. Have you ever written a confession? About what and to whom?
- In the novel, Eric tells his first lie when he is five years old. Do you remember your first lie or a time when you witnessed a young child lie? Why do you think you—or the child you witnessed—told this lie?
- If you could change something about your family history, what would it be?
- Which famous family might you pretend to be part of? Why?
- Eric and Laura’s marriage began with a lie about Eric’s identity. How much of ourselves do we keep from our loved ones? Can omissions ultimately doom a relationship? Or is there room for secrets between spouses and in families?
- Meadow is often the only voice of reason in the novel. What about a child’s mind allows Meadow to trust her father, but to be honest with him at the same time
- Were you ever worried for Meadow’s safety? If not, why not?
- How does Eric’s immigrant status shape the way he sees the world—and the specific parts of his world, such as Laura, Meadow, and Albany?
- Do you think Eric is mentally ill or just a confused man who doesn’t want to lose his daughter? How far would you go to hold on to someone you love?
- Can someone who has made mistakes or done bad things in one part of their life still be a good parent?
- Are you able to forgive the flaws in your own parents? Do you think Meadow will be able to?
Reviews in proper order
Praise for Schroder-
“Enthralling....Gaige displays an unnerving insight into the grandiosity and fragility of the middle-aged male ego...Schroder is clearly her breakout book. With its psychological acuity, emotional complexity and topical subject matter, it deserves all the success it can find. I wish there were such a thing as a Divorced Couples Book Club just so we could listen in on the tangled responses.” The Washington Post
“With Schroder, Gaige has achieved a remarkable feat. How impressive to have created a protagonist who's brilliant, narcissistic, creepy and unhinged, yet somehow sympathetic...Gaige is such a masterful writer that she makes Schroder seem more pitiful than hateful...As unlikely as it sounds, you'll be half-rooting for this lost soul to prevail.” US Today
“[The novel] is contemplative, poetic certainly, but the narrative is urgent and concise and Gaige's storytelling effortlessly spontaneous.” Sadie Jones, Guardian (UK)
“Brilliantly eliciting sympathy where, theoretically, none is deserved, this is a tense, ambitious, bravura exploration of the physical and psychological limits of identity — how we are seen by others, and what we make of ourselves.” Elizabeth Buchan, Sunday Times (UK)
“Impossible to put down....Gaige completely creates this alternative universe, and it is entirely suspenseful as readers are drawn to the Schroder/Kennedy character. It's a credit to Gaige's talents that she can create such a morally complex character.” Chicago Tribune, Editor's Choice
“Gaige writes beautifully...The novel's climactic chapter is also its best conceived: the item that brings about Schroder's downfall is perfect, both dramatic and mundane. The reader will realize that he or she has been given every detail necessary to see what was coming, yet didn't, which is plot-making of the highest order.” New York Times Book Review
“It is to the credit of Amity Gaige that her third novel, Schroder, transforms this thriller plot into a deeply moving tale.... What distinguishes Schroder is its insight and language... Ms. Gaige excels at landscapes; her writing has the still, clear beauty of a mountain lake.” The Economist
“Tender, improbably exhilarating novel ... a smart, ebullient and affectionate allegory for a post credit-crunch America that's frayed but by no means irreparably broken.” Andrzej Lukowski, Metro (UK)
“The measure of Gaige's great gifts as a storyteller is that she persuades you to believe in a situation that shouldn't be believable, and to love a narrator who shouldn’t be lovable. Seldom has such a daring concept for a novel been grounded in such an appealing character. ” Jonathan Franzen, Author of Freedom and The Corrections
“"[A] superb novel....Gaige makes fraudulent, kidnapping Eric utterly sympathetic--heartbreakingly so--which is part of this book's intelligence and depth. We have so little distance from him that we become myopic in our desire to have his outrageous escapade work, even though we know it cannot.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Like Nabokov's Humbert Humbert, Schroder is charming and deceptive, likable and flawed, a conman who has a clever way with words. Schroder's tale is deeply engaging, and Gaige's writing is surprising and original, but the real pull of this magnetic novel is the moral ambiguity the reader feels.” People, 4 stars
“Gaige's prose flows effortlessly .... I found it difficult to put this book down, even when it brought me to tears. Completely absorbed into Eric's mind, we feel for him, even while we condemn his actions ... surreal yet completely believeable ... many layered and beautifully written, Schroder is a devastating work that resonates for a long time after the final page.” Susan Morrell, Sunday Business Post (UK)
“Agile...transporting...a book that works as both character study and morality play, filled with questions that have no easy answers.” Janet Maslin, New York Times
“Schroder is my favourite novel of 2013 so far. Narrated by the titular Eric Schroder, it is a slippery, intelligent and gripping narrative about split identities, paternal love, parental abduction and marital breakdown.” James Kidd, South China Morning Post (UK)
“Daring...a clean, suspenseful, economical story that is also a clever act of social commentary...As a case study of the unreliable narrator, Schroder is beautifully managed...Gaige is an accomplished writer, and the novel elegantly navigates its ethical razor's edge, bringing the reader along on a kind of joyride gone wrong. Novelists like Gaige remind us that we live not in the age of the nineteenth-century marriage plot but in the era of the twenty-first century divorce plot...Gaige writes with a cool strangeness, a strong sense of style...Schroder is by turns dry, peculiar, expansive, and visionary.” Meghan O'Rourke, Bookforum
“On occasion... a novel will provoke a host of tangled and disconcertingly conflicted reactions-revulsion and affection; blame and understanding; a connection that goes beyond surface sympathy to a deeper, and possibly unwanted, emotional recognition. These were among the things I experienced while reading Amity Gaige's astoundingly good novel Schroder.” The Wall Street Journal
“Narrative diversions into Schroder's study of silence, ‘Pausology’, eventually come to bear upon the great gouging silence of his father and the lacuna left by his mother. When read along these lines, Gaige provides a convincing portrait of a psychological subject whose fissured self is made manifest in a quiet textual instability.” Mary Hannity, Spectator magazine (UK)
“Schroder’s account of the events is complicated and nuanced, and the noel is absorbing, with a propulsive plot and a narrator who is charming, ambivalent and searching — a man driving by love who understands that love cannot save him.” The New Yorker
“Gaige's spot-on prose makes this quirky parental drama irresistible.” Good Housekeeping
“A lively narrative ... insightful revelations about the struggle for identity felt for every immigrant.” Jennifer Cunningham, The Herald (UK)
“Strikingly original.” Reader's Digest
“A lyrical and poetic novel about the adverse ramifications of a little white lie that follows its teller throughout his life.” O, The Oprah Magazine
“Lyrical prose. A poignant, heartbreaking novel.” We Love This Book magazine (UK)
“In Schroder, Amity Gaige explores the rich, murky realm where parental devotion edges into mania, and logic crabwalks into crime. This offbeat, exquisitely written novel showcases a fresh, forceful young voice in American letters.” Jennifer Egan, Author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
“Heartbreaking...could be O My Darling author Amity Gaige's breakout work. Starring a doggedly compelling lead character and Gaige's signature smooth prose, this novel wows with its exacting, subtle grace...She mixes warmth, lovely tenderness and wit with fear and loathing, nakedness and shame, moving her narrative swiftly to an end that hits like a punch in the gut...An engrossing paradox. And Gaige is a talent who deserves attention.” Bookpage
“It's a mark of how good Schroder is that, upon finishing it, I immediately went out and read the rest of her work.” Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine
“[A] fascinating psychological portrait of love, longing and self-loathing...Written as a jailhouse confession to his ex-wife, Schroder's closest literary relative is probably Lolita (minus the pedophilia): The compellingly unreliable narrator of European background, the East Coast road trip with the precocious child, the narcissism, the unsavory motels, the whiff of danger. Schroder easily stands up to the comparison....And yet the book, at its heart, is a love story. Schroder may be deluded—and a woefully irresponsible parent—but his touching, sincere adoration of his daughter and ex-wife is his great redemption.” The Los Angeles Times
“You will not want to put this book down. You will want to read it in one big gulp. This is a bullet of a novel, aimed at our pieties about parenthood and familial love. To those who know Gaige's first two novels, it's no surprise she’s produced another stunner. To those who don’t, you're in for a treat.” Adam Haslett, Author of You Are Not a Stranger Here and Union Atlantic
“Brilliantly written...What could be a hackneyed novelistic trope—the confessional letter—is completely transformed in Gaige's sure and insightful hands...Schroder is a haunting look at the extreme desire for love and family, and how the mind can justify that need to possess what it cannot have. Almost, just almost, Schroder has us rooting for him.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Amity Gaige has written a flawless book. It does not contain a single false note. Playful and inventive, Schroder movingly depicts the ways we confound our own hearts—how even with the best intentions, we fail to love those closest to us as well as we wish we could. Eric Schroder should take his place among the most charismatic and memorable characters in contemporary fiction, and Amity Gaige her place among the most talented and impressive writers working today.” David Bezmozgis, Author of Natasha and Other Stories and The Free World
“Gaige creates a fascinating and complex character in Erik, as he moves from the eccentric and slightly irresponsible father to a desperate man at the end of his rope... [an] expert exploration of the immigrant experience, alienation, and the unbreakable bond between parent and child.” Booklist
“Quiet and deeply introspective... Tender moments of observation, regret and joy—all conveyed in unselfconsciously lyrical prose—result in a radiant meditation on identity, memory and familial love and loss.” Publisher's Weekly
“Terrific...Schroder grabs you early on, holds you with its lyrical prose and surprising insights and lingers in the mind long afterward.” The Pittsburgh Post Gazette
“Schroder is a beautifully told story about how a father's undeniable love for his young child can be distorted by the pressure he experiences at the thought of being cut off from her...we all are destined to fall short of our expectations, to fail to match our lovingly painted self-portraits, some of us more dramatically and tragically than others. It's but one of many penetrating insights that transport Amity Gaige's novel from the realm of mere artifice to the status of real art.” Book Reporter
“With Schroder Gaige has created a narrator who, while flawed and frustrating, is intensely lovable...Schroder is a touching story of parental alienation.” Wisconsin State Journal
“Gaige injects her narrative with a good deal of gentle humour while exploring serious themes such as identity ... an accomplished novel.” bookhugger.co.uk (UK)
“Prepare to be captivated by Schroder, a riveting novel by Amity Gaige with a unique and incredibly creative voice...Schroder is a book to be digested slowly, reread and discussed. It's quite a wild ride, but the miles fly by with Amity Gaige at the wheel.” The Missourian
“It's a fine line, sometimes, between disturbing and enrapturing. Amity Gaige's new novel, Schroder, treads that thrilling line-swiftly, and on tiptoe—for 270 pages. It is impossible to put down...Despite his criminal behavior, our intimacy with Eric makes his behavior, and this story, more tragic than enraging. Does he love his daughter? We know that he thinks he does. But does carting her across state lines—in a stolen car, no less—constitute love? Who's to say? Schroder certainly doesn't give us an easy answer. But it digs deeply, satisfyingly, disturbingly into the question...she's created a riveting tale, at once infuriating, heartbreaking and human.” The Denver Post
“To say that the piece of fiction Gaige has produced is successful is a serious understatement... Schroder is refreshingly bereft of the formal wizardry that characterizes much of the postmodern fiction that attracted academic interest in the second half of the twentieth century… Instead, Gaige turns to the ineluctable parts of life that go by big-sounding names: love and fear, for instance...Not to mention the fact that this book is great fun to read. It is relentlessly compelling in the way that mystery stories can sometimes be.” Artvoice
“Fascinating...In all, we are glad to be along for the ride. And when someone asks Schroder, near the novel's end, 'Do you miss it? I mean, your made-up life?'—we can assume that, in large part, he does. We can also confess, now we know Schroder so well, that we do too.” Buffalo News
“A story that manages to be perceptive as well as deceptive, a story that is clever, erudite and funny.” Doug Johnstone, Big Issue magazine (UK)
“[A] profound meditation on history and fatherhood, and the many identities we take on in our lives.” East Bay Express
“Gaige has a gift for probing love’s complexities.” Brown Alumni Magazine
“Schroder is a book unlike any other, with characters that will be in your head for days to come. A compelling read.” Lauren Turner, Press Association & Irish Examiner
“[A]n excellent feat of storytelling, creating a flawed and compelling character who is at once distinct and individual and a symbol of our society.” National Post
“[A] terrifically interesting and compelling story that will make you think, and think again.” North Haven Courier
“Amity Gaige's Schroder is a triumph of voice. Part road trip escapade, part liar's lament, this absorbing, expertly crafted book takes the form of a self-serving but moving apologia written in an Albany jail cell by an untrustworthy but genuinely heartbroken father and ex-husband with astonishingly bad judgment...one heartrending lesson from all these narratives is that even a deeply flawed parent can be a loving one.” Barnes & Noble Review
“A brilliant exploration of identity and belonging, and Gaige's writing is beautiful.” Kate Saunders, The Times (UK)
Praise for O My Darling
“Love, marriage, and the whole damn thing—all spanned in a witty, tender first novel. With a flavor of Lorrie Moore, graceful, bright, modern writing.” Kirkus
“Utterly devourable…gently, and beautifully unfolds, like a gauzy curtain in an open window.”
Los Angeles Times
“Sparkles and delights…crystalline insights into the nature of love and flashes of narrative brilliance.” Publishers Weekly
“A life-enhancing novel and a stunning debut…Gaige’s style sings and twists. Each moment or shift in perspective conjures up a strange image, a quirky insight, a sumptuous simile…haunting, riveting, wonderful.” The Providence Journal
“This fine, intelligent novel should be required reading for anyone who is (a) in love, (b) engaged, (c) wed, or (d) planning on buying real estate, especially as a concrete expression of (a), (b), or (c). In On My Darling, with one scalpel-sharp sentence after another, Amity Gaige has cut a beautifully sad pattern into the skin of that rootless, troubled creature—the modern, secular marriage.” Adam Haslett, author of You are not a Stranger Here
“Given its level of sophistication and off-center wit, it’s a bit startling to realize that O My Darling is Amity Gaige’s first novel. The characters, beautifully drawn, are as unsentimental towards one another as their author is towards them and yet, wonderfully, this novel, with its many ambushes of lyrical moments, is deeply felt.” Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed with Magellan and The Coast of Chicago
“A sharply drawn, darkly witty, supremely intelligent guide to the souls of two deeply fearful people fighting to make a life together… Despite their flaws, Clark and Charlotte burst with truth and realness in this refreshing story of what ties two people together.” ForeWord Magazine
“Generous, wry and bristling with humor, O My Darling is a gift to the reader. There are so many pleasures to be found here: indelible images, crystalline prose, and two characters that are rendered with such unerring insight and tenderness, they will continue to haunt us long after we have, with great reluctance, left them.” Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Madeleine is Sleeping
“Amity Gaige seems to know everything there is to know about us. [The novel’s] details are so sharp and unique, every sentence carries the burden (and sometimes also the joy) of truth.” Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
Praise for The Folded World
“In this tightly-written and emotionally satisfying novel, a young couple’s marriage is thrown into jeopardy by the husband’s workaholic tendencies… [Gaige] is extraordinarily adept at revealing her characters’ personalities in just a few words… Stirring.” New York Times Book Review
“The bitterness and disillusion of marriage have been thoroughly plumbed in contemporary fiction; Gaige is one of the rare novelists who is more interested in its potential for happiness and grace. A-.” Entertainment Weekly
“The Folded World will appeal to readers who like to dive into the muck of internal and interpersonal conflicts, and break the surface with breath born of insight and empathy. Amity Gaige's second novel lives up to the reputation she earned with her first one, as an original, compelling voice.” Chicago Tribune (Favorite Books of 2007)
“Gaige tells Charlie's story—as well as those of Alice, Opal, and a half-dozen other finely conceived characters—in a patchwork of short narratives, each told from a different vantage point. Her prose is carefully styled: rich with visual imagery, surprising metaphors, and the kind of observations that make you stop dead at the end of a sentence and reread it, thinking: This really is how we are, isn't it?” Brown Alumni Monthly Magazine
“Amity Gaige is terrific. Once again she reveals her virtuoso ability to translate the complicated ambiguity of our most haunting feelings, and our closest relationships, into dazzling prose. For the reader who has been fortified by love's endurance, baffled by its fragility, and awestruck by the hurricane force with which it hits, The Folded World strikes deep and true.” Christopher Sorrentino, author of Trance
“One of Gaige’s triumphs is her ability to sustain narrative momentum; as the story progresses and the characters deepen… the book becomes truly gripping. The scenes are so finely crafted, the narrative movement so fluid, it becomes impossible to resist being swept into the world of Alice and Charlie… The Folded World entices one to read with both hunger and patience.” The Literary Review (Editor’s Choice)
“Gaige was honored as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 [exceptional authors] under 35” for her debut, O My Darling (2005). Her second time around again showcases a gift for capturing the simultaneous proximity and distance in a relationship… Gaige’s off-beat orientation, wit and piercing insights stand up to her first novel, this time in a more sober and less tidy narrative that offers greater breadth in exchange for sweetness.”
Kirkus (starred review)
“I'm very grateful to the folks at Other Press for publishing Amity Gaige's The Folded World this year. In reading Charlie and Alice's story, I was struck by three things: Gaige's crystalline prose, the three-dimensionality of all of her characters, even the minor ones, and her ability to convey the darkness in the minds of Charlie's clients, who are suffering from schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. Gaige… offers us something very special indeed.”
Nancy Pearl, National Public Radio
Gaige (one of the National Book Foundation's ‘5 under 35’) writes elegantly, and she makes the survival of this young marriage a question of grace. Grade: A-”
Christian Science Monitor
“More are the wonders awaiting you in Amity Gaige's The Folded World. Strands of memory and thought intersect in this sensitive tale of a social worker Charlie Shade and his wife, Alice. The similarity with Virginia Woolf's style and themes is palpable: The decipherable charge of emotion breaking into a sudden spasm of speech that marks a return to the here and now from the sharpness of sporadic thought. The inner dialogue of Opal reminds you of Septimus'' in Mrs. Dalloway.”
“The Folded World is an artfully-rendered portrait of Charlie and his wife, a meditation on love, relationships and responsibility, and an exploration of what exactly constitutes the dividing line between sanity and madness… The often-awkward (and sometimes wrenching) dance of the care provider who must know people intimately, yet simultaneously keep them at arm’s length… is portrayed here to stunning effect… The beauty of her prose and her joy in wordsmithing suggest that The Folded World might just as readily have been written by a poet.”
The Providence Journal