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May We Be Forgiven

By Donna Seaman

Incisive, funny, and commanding, Homes broke new ground in her last novel, This Book Will Save Your Life (2006). She continues in the same philosophical and stylistic vein in this eventful family tragicomedy set in New York’s Westchester County and ignited by an epic, even biblical battle between two brothers in a Jewish family rife with feuds and subterfuge.

George is a successful, arrogant, and bullying television executive with a lonely wife and exceptionally smart, sensitive children. Historian Harry endures a chilly, childless marriage, cocooned within his scholarly obsession with Richard Nixon. Resentments boil over, horrific violence ensues, and Harry finds himself in “an endless free fall,” struggling to be a good parent to his nephew and niece while entangling himself in scary if hilarious Internet-initiated sexual predicaments. Homes sends her magnetic characters on a wild, mordantly comic, deeply moving odyssey through a shopping mall, nursing home, the wilderness, schools, an amusement park, a South African village, and a lawyer’s office, where Harry reads an astonishing, newly discovered Nixon archive. In this frenetic, insightful, and complexly moral novel of a man transformed by crisis, Homes dramatizes hubris and greed, alienation and spirituality, improvised families, and justice in our age of smart phones, dumbed-down education, and bankrupt culture.

— Donna Seaman