John Irving published his first novel at the age of twenty-six. He has received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation; he has won an O. Henry Award, a National Book Award, and an Oscar.
In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
"In the world according to Garp, we're all terminal cases." This sentence ends both Irving's comic and tragic novel and its wonderful audio adaptation, read disarmingly by Michael Prichard. We hear the familiar story of T.S. Garp; his mother, Jenny Fields; and Garp's wife, family, friends, and lovers. We also see Garp's efforts to establish himself as a serious author and his involvement in sexual politics. In contrast, Jenny's memoirs establish her as a feminist leader. This work is funny, sexual, serious, and sad. Prichard's narration adds a wonderful dimension to the story. Plus, Irving opens with a terrific introduction to mark the novel's 20th anniversary. This wise and unique tale is as fresh today as it was when first published in 1978. Obviously, a required purchase for all audio collections and required listening for all Irving fans. Irving's (A Son of the Circus, Audio Reviews, LJ 12/94) new novel echoes Garp through tracing the complicated life of novelist Ruth Cole. Divided into three parts, the book views Ruth's life and relationships at age four in 1958, age 36 in 1990, and age 41 in 1995. In the first part, Ruth's mother, devastated by the loss of two sons, leaves her daughter and womanizing husband after a brief love affair with a teenage boy. Part 2 focuses on Ruth's book tour in Europe while coming to grips with a poor love life and considering marriage to an older man. Part 3 traces Ruth's short widowhood and her marriage to the Dutch policeman who solves the murder to which she was a witness. Like Garp, this is a complex, sad, and quite compelling tale. Narrator George Guidall's reading adds to the texture of the story. And like the audio adaptation of Garp, this wonderful novel is a required purchase for all audio collections.‘Stephen L. Hupp, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Lib., PA
"BY TURNS ANTIC AND MOVING, LUSTY AND TRAGIC, A Widow for One Year is bursting with memorable moments."
--San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
"WISELY AND CAREFULLY CRAFTED . . . Irving is among the few novelists who can write a novel about grief and fill it with ribald humor soaked in irony."
"IRVING'S MOST ENTERTAINING AND PERSUASIVE NOVEL SINCE . . . THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP."
--The New York Times
"DEEPLY AFFECTING . . . The pleasures of this rich and beautiful book are manifold. To be human is to savor them."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"A POWERFUL TALE TO ADD TO AN ALREADY EXTRAORDINARY BODY OF WORK FROM A GREAT AMERICAN WRITER."
"MASTERFUL . . . POWERFUL . . . Irving's best books are Dickensian in their rich characters, plotting and language--and of course, in moving the reader. On the final page of A Widow for One Year . . . I literally burst out crying."
"A sprawling 19th-century production, chock full of bizarre coincidences, multiple plot lines, lengthy digressions, and stories within stories. . . . An engaging and often affecting fable, a fairy tale that manages to be old-fashioned and modern all at once."
--The New York Times
"[Irving's] characters can beguile us onto thin ice and persuade us to dance there. His instinctive mark is the moral choice stripped bare, and his aim is impressive. What's more, there's hardly a writer alive who can match his control of the omniscient point of view."
--The Washington Post Book World
"In the sprawling, deeply felt A Widow for One Year, John Irving has delivered his best novel since The World According to Garp. . . . Like a warm bath, it's a great pleasure to immerse yourself in."
"Enchantingly balances the haunting tug of grief with the lure of enduring love . . . Irving's rich narrative and his sense of play result in a delicious collusion between author and reader."
--Raleigh News & Observer
"WONDERFULLY SATISFYING . . . [Irving] tells this story with so much delight that it's difficult for the reader not to be infected with the same kind of joy in the reading."
--The Dallas Morning News
"As compelling as Garp . . . Which is to say it's terrific. . . . His most moving book . . . John Irving is one of America's great storytellers."
--San Jose Mercury News
"Comic and tragic, brilliant, and moving . . . Crammed with all the wonderful characters, quirky situations and memorable coincidences that have made [Irving] so beloved by readers . . . A terrific read that will make you its willing slave, so captivating is its allure."
--Chattanooga Free Press
"A feast . . . One of this storyteller's richest works. . . . A rich, resonant tale."
"Irving is a writer whose keenest sensibilities have always fallen somewhere between Dickensian verbosity and Mad magazine mischief."
--Rocky Mountain News
"Full of humor, heartbreak and lust."
"POWERFUL . . . A MASTERPIECE."
--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"[A] sprawling, complex family history . . . Wisely and carefully crafted."
"A Widow for One Year delivers everything John Irving fans have come to expect from the beloved author of The World According to Garp a funny, sad, sprawling saga full of oddball yet believable characters."
"There's only one thing wrong with John Irving novels: They have to end. Readers won't easily part with the characters in his latest work, A Widow for One Year. . . . [An] exhilarating talent."
"Moving and memorable . . . This novel marks a return to the deep but gentle examination of human nature that made Garp so successful."
--San Diego Union-Tribune
"May be Irving's best book . . . A remarkable achievement."
--Sunday Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)