Paul Auster delivers his magnum opus
Brooklynite Paul Auster is one of Brooklyn’s deepest thinkers. His critically acclaimed work is recognized for its exploration of existentialism and the search for identity and personal meaning.
Auster spoke about his latest book, “4 3 2 1” at Greenlight Bookstore on Feb. 7. Auster’s first fiction in seven years, many consider it his masterwork — or, if early reviewers have a say, his magnum opus. A meticulously researched and uniquely rendered exploration of the forces that make each of us who we are, “4 3 2 1” is the tale of a distinctively American character named Archie Ferguson, whose family story arc from Ellis Island to the American Dream (in this case Manhattan via Newark) is dotted with what-ifs.
On March 3, 1947, in a Newark, N.J., hospital, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson’s story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid-20th-century America. A boy grows up — again and again and again.
As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Auster has ever written, “4 3 2 1” is an unforgettable tour de force, the crowning work of this masterful writer’s extraordinary career.
Auster is the bestselling author of “Sunset Park,” “Invisible,” “The Brooklyn Follies”, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature. Among his other honors are the Prix Medicis etranger for “Leviathan,” the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of “Smoke” and the Premio Napoli for “Sunset Park.” In 2012, he was the first recipient of the NYC Literary Honors in the category of fiction. He has also been a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (“The Book of Illusions”), the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (“The Music of Chance”) and the Edgar Award (“City of Glass”). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Auster’s work has been translated into more than 40 languages. He lives in Brooklyn.
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