Catalogue

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My new American life /
Francine Prose.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Harper, c2011.
description
306 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0061713767 (hbk.), 9780061713767 (hbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Harper, c2011.
isbn
0061713767 (hbk.)
9780061713767 (hbk.)
abstract
While working for an idealistic college professor, twenty-six-year old Lula, an Albanian trying to make a better life for herself in America, finds her life taking a complicated turn when her Albanian "brothers" return, in a novel set in the aftermath of 9/11.
catalogue key
7636714
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2011-01-03:
The story of a good-hearted immigrant doubles as a snapshot of America during Bush II's second term in Prose's uneven latest. Lula is a 26-year-old Albanian working an undemanding au pair gig in New Jersey. Her employer, Stanley, is a forlorn Wall Street exec recently abandoned by his mentally disturbed wife. He asks only that Lula see to the simple needs of his son, Zeke, a disaffected high school senior. Soon, Stanley and one of his friends, a high-profile immigration lawyer, are taken with the tale-telling, mildly exotic Lula (who speaks English flawlessly) and get to work on securing her citizenship. Lula's gig is cushy if dull, a condition relieved when three Albanian criminals, led by the charming Alvo, arrive at Stanley's house with a quiet demand that Lula harbor a (Chekhovian) gun for them. Prose seeks to show America through the fresh eyes of an outsider with a deeply ingrained, comic pessimism born of life under dictatorship, yet also capable of exuberant optimism, and the results, like Lula, are agreeable enough but not terribly profound. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-01-01:
Desperate to stay in America-she's in New York on a tourist visa that's close to giving out-26-year-old Albanian Lula accepts a job in suburban New Jersey as caretaker to woebegone teenager Zach, whose crazy mother upped and left on Christmas Eve. He and his father have since lived in mutually befuddled silence, though Mister Stanley, as Lula calls Zach's dad, is doing his best. The kindly Mister Stanley even arranges for a lawyer friend to assure Lula's legal status. Then, the day after she's got her papers, a black SUV pulls up in front of the house, and the three young men who pile out lay claim to Lula's attention because they're Albanian, too. Lula goes along with their request to hide a gun, then goes along for a ride and falls for the ringleader, Alvo. Soon she's doing what's she's done all along to survive, fabricating at will to explain her relationship to Alvo while trying to steer Zach away from the abyss. Her hopefulness and initiative contrast sharply with the lassitude and utter cluelessness of her host family. VERDICT Does Lula get the new American life she wants so badly? In this sparkling new work by Prose (Blue Angel), she's on her way. An illuminating and ultimately upbeat look at America's immigrant situation that all fiction readers will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/10.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
“A fast-moving novel…[that] brings together cultural satire, mystery, a psychosexual thriller, and political outrage…exceptionally entertaining, fun to read in its sentences, incidents, scenes.”
“An illuminating and ultimately upbeat look at America’s immigrant situation that all fiction readers will enjoy.”
“...a superb novel...a wickedly entertaining read...Prose is on top of her game...the fluidity of the prose surpassing, I think, her work in Blue Angel.”
“A superb novel . . . a wickedly entertaining read. . . . Prose is on top of her game . . . the fluidity of the prose surpassing, I think, her work in Blue Angel.”
“A tangy mixture of satire and sentiment...Ms. Prose uses her heroine’s outside status to make a lot of funny…observations about the cosseted life of well-to-do Americans.”
“Fun and funny,...a satire of immigration and its discontents...”
“In My New American Life, Francine Prose cracks open that old chestnut about the immigrant reinvention experience and injects, yes, new life into it.”
“ My New American Life is—happily—vintage Prose: cheerfully pessimistic, smart, funny, with characters unnervingly spot-on in their stages of outrage, denial, malaise or disillusionment.”
“My New American Life is - happily - vintage Prose: cheerfully pessimistic, smart, funny, with characters unnervingly spot-on in their stages of outrage, denial, malaise or disillusionment.”
' My New American Life is?happily'vintage Prose: cheerfully pessimistic, smart, funny, with characters unnervingly spot-on in their stages of outrage, denial, malaise or disillusionment.'(Miami Herald)
“Nothing is beyond the artistic reach of Francine Prose”
“Prose…is, as always, sharply intelligent.”
“Prose is dazzling in her sixteenth book of spiky fiction, a fast-flowing, bittersweet, brilliantly satirical immigrant story that subtly embodies the cultural complexity and political horrors of the Balkans and Bush-Cheney America.”
“Prose is in her sweet spot as a nimble chronicler of contemporary culture.”
“Prose’s characters in MY NEW AMERICAN LIFE are complex and brilliantly drawn (culturally distinct but without the usual clichés).”
“Prose’s characters in MY NEW AMERICAN LIFE are complex and brilliantly drawn (culturally distinct but without the usual clich s).”
“Prose spins the many straws of American culture into a golden tale, shimmering with hilarious, if blistering, satire.”
“Prose’s real aim is to characterize and caricature modern American life, mostly in a gentle way that will leave readers smarter than they were before...”
“Prose succeeds by transforming anxiety into compassion-it’s a little lever that gets tripped when we truly imagine what another person feels.”
“She’s a perfect observer of American life in the opening decade of the 21st century...21st century…Wry…witty…a book that brims with smart surprises.”
“She’s a perfect observer of American life in the opening decade of the 21st century. . . . Wry . . . witty . . . a book that brims with smart surprises.”
“There has been a lot written about the Bush and Cheney days, but rarely from such an amusing perspective...at once honest, complicated, sexy, funny and-ultimately-uplifting.”
“Utterly charming. Savvy about the shady practices of both US immigration authorities and immigrants themselves... Entertaining, light yet not trivial, a joy to read.”
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, January 2011
Publishers Weekly, January 2011
Booklist, February 2011
New York Times Book Review, April 2011
Wall Street Journal, April 2011
Boston Globe, May 2011
New York Times Full Text Review, May 2011
USA Today, May 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
An Albanian living surreptitiously in New York City on an expiring tourist visa, twenty-six year old Lula hopes to make a better life for herself in America. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Lula's Albanian 'brothers' show up. She is reminded that all Albanians are family, but what they ask of her is no small favour.
Description for Library
Trust the admired Prose, former president of the PEN American Center, to take on a thorny topic-in the age of immigrants, what it means to be an American. Lula, a 26-year-old Albanian whose tourist visa is about to expire, lucks into a job tending an out-of-control high school senior in suburban New Jersey. All's well-until some Albanian "brothers" show up, wanting to bask in the glow of her new American life. Can't wait to read this one; with a 50,000-copy first printing (not more?).
Library of Congress Summary
While working for an idealistic college professor, twenty-six-year old Lula, an Albanian trying to make a better life for herself in America, finds her life taking a complicated turn when her Albanian "brothers" return, in a novel set in the aftermath of 9/11.
Main Description
An Albanian living surreptitiously in New York City on an expiring tourist visa, twenty-six year old Lula hopes to make a better life for herself in America. When she lands a job as caretaker to Zach, a rebellious high school senior in suburban New Jersey, it seems that the security, comfort, and happiness of the American dream might finally be within reach. Her new boss, Mister Stanley, An idealistic college professor turned Wall Street executive, assumes that Lula is a destitute refugee of Balkan wars. He enlists his childhood friend, Don Settebello, a hotshot lawyer who prides himself on defending political underdogs to straighten out Lula's legal situation. In true American fashion, everyone gets what he wants and feels good about it.Things take a different turn, however, when Lula's Albanian "brothers" show up in a brand-new black Lexus SUV. Hoodie, Leather Jacket, And The Cute One remind her that all Albanians are family, but what they ask of her is no small favor. Lula's new American life suddenly becomes more complicated, As she struggles to find her footing as a stranger in a strange new land. Is it possible that her new American life is not as different from her old Albanian one as she once imagined?Set in the aftermath of 9/11, My New American Life offers a vivid, darkly humorous, bitingly real portrait of a particular moment in history, when a nation's dreams and ideals gave way to a culture of cynicism, lies and fear. Beneath its high comic surface, The novel is a more serious consideration of immigration, of what it was like to live through the Bush-Cheney years, and of what it means to be American.
Main Description
From the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Reading Like a Writer" comes a brilliant new novel that captures America at its most hilarious and dreadful through a cast of characters remarkable for their flawed humanity.
Main Description
Lula, a twenty-six-year-old Albanian woman living surreptitiously in New York City on an expiring tourist visa, hopes to make a better life for herself in America. When she lands a job as caretaker to Zeke, a rebellious high school senior in suburban New Jersey, it seems that the security, comfort, and happiness of the American dream may finally be within reach. Her new boss, Mister Stanley, an idealistic college professor turned Wall Street executive, assumes that Lula is a destitute refugee of the Balkan wars. He enlists his childhood friend Don Settebello, a hotshot lawyer who prides himself on defending political underdogs, to straighten out Lula's legal situation. In true American fashion, everyone gets what he wants and feels good about it. But things take a more sinister turn when Lula's Albanian "brothers" show up in a brand-new black Lexus SUV. Hoodie, Leather Jacket, and the Cute One remind her that all Albanians are family, but what they ask of her is no small favor. Lula's new American life suddenly becomes more complicated as she struggles to find her footing as a stranger in a strange new land. Is it possible that her new American life is not so different from her old Albanian one? Set in the aftermath of 9/11, My New American Lifeoffers a vivid, darkly humorous, bitingly real portrait of a particular moment in history, when a nation's dreams and ideals gave way to a culture of cynicism, lies, and fear. Beneath its high comic surface, the novel is a more serious consideration of immigration, of what it was like to live through the Bush-Cheney years, and of what it means to be an American.

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