In this mesmerizing novel, Ethan Canin, the New York Times bestselling author of America America and The Palace Thief, explores the nature of genius, rivalry, ambition, and love among multiple generations of a gifted family.
Milo Andret is born with an unusual mind. A lonely child growing up in the woods of northern Michigan in the 1950s, he gives little thought to his own talent. But with his acceptance at U.C. Berkeley he realizes the extent, and the risks, of his singular gifts. California in the seventies is a seduction, opening Milo’s eyes to the allure of both ambition and indulgence. The research he begins there will make him a legend; the woman he meets there—and the rival he meets alongside her—will haunt him for the rest of his life. For Milo’s brilliance is entwined with a dark need that soon grows to threaten his work, his family, even his existence.
Spanning seven decades as it moves from California to Princeton to the Midwest to New York, A Doubter’s Almanac tells the story of a family as it explores the way ambition lives alongside destructiveness, obsession alongside torment, love alongside grief. It is a story of how the flame of genius both lights and scorches every generation it touches. Graced by stunning prose and brilliant storytelling, A Doubter’s Almanac is a surprising, suspenseful, and deeply moving novel, a major work by a writer who has been hailed as “the most mature and accomplished novelist of his generation.”
Praise for A Doubter’s Almanac
“Ethan Canin writes with such luxuriant beauty and tender sympathy that even victims of Algebra II will follow his calculations of the heart with rapt comprehension.”—The Washington Post
“[Canin] is at the top of his form, fluent, immersive, confident. You might not know where he’s taking you, but the characters are so vivid, Hans’s voice rendered so precisely, that it’s impossible not to trust in the story. . . . The delicate networks of emotion and connection that make up a family are illuminated, as if by magic, via his prose.”—Slate
“Canin’s hugely anticipated tale of male genius and its destructive power is a fine-grained portrait of a troubled mathematician and the emotional footprint he leaves behind.”—Vogue
“Ethan Canin’s immersive multi-generational novel A Doubter’s Almanac is rich with insights into genius and its darker legacy.”—More
“A masterful writer at his transcendent best.”—BBC
“Ethan Canin writes about mathematics as brilliantly as T. S. Eliot writes about poetry. With this extraordinary novel, Ethan Canin now takes his place on the high wire with the best writers of his time.”—Pat Conroy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and My Reading Life
“[Written] with stunning assurance and elegant, resonant prose . . . fascinating in its character portrayal and psychological insights . . . It is [Canin’s] superb storytelling that makes this novel a tremendous literary achievement.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Epic . . . thoroughly absorbing . . . a nuanced, heartbreaking portrait of a tortured mathematician . . . Canin, in translucent prose, elucidates the way a mathematician sees the world and humanity’s own insignificance within it. A harrowing, poignant read about the blessing and curse of genius.”—Booklist (starred review)