Nominated for the Man Booker Prize: the stunning debut novel from bestselling author Bill Clegg is a magnificently powerful story about a circle of people who find solace in the least likely of places as they cope with a horrific tragedy.
ISBN: 9781476798189
Did You Ever Have a Family
Description: Nominated for the Man Booker Prize: the stunning debut novel from bestselling author Bill Clegg is a magnificently powerful story about a circle of people who find solace in the least likely of places as they cope with a horrific tragedy.

Bill Clegg’s work has been acclaimed as “spare, elegant” (Vogue), “mesmerizing” (The New York Times), and “harrowing and hopeful” (People).

PRAISE for Bill Clegg’s


The New York Times Book Review

“A brilliantly constructed debut set in the aftermath of catastrophic loss.”

—2015 Man Booker Prize Judges (Longlist Finalist)

“An attempt to map how the unbearable is borne, elegantly written and bravely imagined.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Sorrowful and deeply probing debut novel…Clegg’s deft handling of all the parsed details—missed opportunities, harbored regrets, and unspoken good intentions—that make the journey toward redemption and forgiveness so memorable.”

Publishers Weekly, “Pick of the Week,” (starred review)

“Clegg is both delicately lyrical and emotionally direct in this masterful novel…Both ineffably sad and deeply inspiring, this mesmerizing novel makes for a powerful debut.”

Booklist (starred review)

“A propulsive but tightly crafted narrative…reveal[s] the fine-grained sorrows of the human condition, rendered in polished, quietly captivating prose. As the stories emerge, so do their connections—and the idea of connection itself….Readers may come to this debut novel because of agent/memoirist Clegg’s reputation, but they’ll stay for the stellar language and storytelling. Highly recommended.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“The force, range, and scope of Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family will grab you with its opening lines, and won’t let go until its final one.”

—Pulitzer Prize–winning author Michael Cunningham

“It’s a wondrous thing when a writer gets things this right, this absorbing, and this beautiful.”

—Bestselling author Elinor Lipman

“Full of small-town secrets and whispers, Bill Clegg has woven a richly textured tale of loss and healing. This is a deeply optimistic book about the power of human sympathy to pull us from the wreckage of our fate.”

—Man Booker Prize–winning author Anne Enright

“Like the question it poses, Did You Ever Have a Family is brutally direct yet it’s got an enormous symbolic power. You hold in your hands a great book of kindness—every restrained, exquisite sentence comes loaded for bear. It’s been a lot of years since a novel has so moved me. Number Bill Clegg among that endangered species: major American writer.”

—National Book Critics Circle Award–winning author
Darin Strauss

“[An] unexpectedly tender fiction debut.”


“Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family limns the far reaches of grief.”

Vanity Fair

“[An] incisive first novel.”

Harper’s Bazaar

“Clegg has produced a moving, clever novel that subtly dissects the relationships between mothers and their children, lovers, neighbors and strangers. Did You Ever Have a Family is an unpretentious work about how a life can be salvaged from the ashes. Bill Clegg is an author to watch.”

The Times (UK)

“A quiet novel of devastating power. Clegg has drawn a tale of prodigious tenderness and lyricism...that reveals the depths of the human heart. [Did You Ever Have a Family] is a wonderful and deeply moving novel, which compels us to look directly into the dark night of our deepest fears and then quietly, step by tiny step, guides us towards the first pink smudges of the dawn.”

The Guardian (UK)

“A quiet, measured and engrossing piece…a poignant portrait of fractured family lives. Clegg’s prose conveys the numbed grieving state of mind, its quietness fitting its subject of deep clear-eyed sadness….It approaches grief gently and, in the end, its gentleness is its triumph.”

The Daily Telegraph (UK)

“From the first page, Clegg writes about sorrow with such authenticity and dignity that we’re immediately willing to trust him. The best grief novels…satisfy our craving for wisdom, emotional or even spiritual, and offer some light to navigate the darkness that falls over even the most blessed life….Did You Ever Have a Family rises to that challenge again and again.”

—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“Illuminate[s] how grief, guilt, regrets and the deep need for human connection are woven into the very flammable fabric of humanity…. Clegg's emotionally direct, polished novel is at once heartrending and heartening. It's a gift to be able to write about such dark stuff without succumbing to utter bleakness, and to infuse even scorching sadness with a ray of hopefulness.”

Los Angeles Times

“How do you continue if all at once, everyone you love has been wiped away? With crosscutting perspectives and a voluminous cast of characters, Clegg constructs a layered narrative with some dexterous plot twists.”

—The Boston Globe

“This isn’t your typical mystery, it’s something better: a real-life thriller in which resolution takes the form of acceptance. While [Clegg] never suggests anything as simplistic as closure for these tormented souls, he manages to find ways for them to move forward from this tragedy, making it seem a little less random than it did at the beginning, and that in and of itself is a kind of mercy.”

—San Francisco Gate

“[Did You Ever Have A] Family is a quiet and beautifully written novel that will keep readers turning the pages….There is no resignation here. Rather, Clegg seems to say, it is the courage to intervene in another’s life that defines the notion of family.”

—Minnesota Star Tribune

“Heartbreaking but quietly optimistic, Did You Ever Have a Family is a rumination on horrific loss, healing, forgiveness, and the families we choose for ourselves.”

—BuzzFeed, “19 Awesome New Books You Need To Read This Fall”

“[Did You Ever Have A] Family melds several grieving voices into a detailed mosaic of a town split between locals and weekenders, a mystery in which the stakes really matter, and a recovery story more original than Clegg’s own.”

–Vulture, “7 Books You Need to Read This September”

The American Booksellers Association’s #1 Indie Next Pick for September 2015

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