Nominated by:

Milwaukee Public Library, USA

Lincoln Library, Springfield, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Simon & Schuster, USA

We Are Not Ourselves

Matthew Thomas    

2016 Longlist

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on how much alcohol has been consumed. From an early age, Eileen wished that she lived somewhere else. She sets her sights on upper class Bronxville, New York, and an American Dream is born.

Driven by this longing, Eileen places her stock and love in Ed Leary, a handsome young scientist, and with him begins a family. Over the years Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house. It slowly becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper, more incomprehensive psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Matthew Thomas was born in the Bronx and grew up in Queens. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he has an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His New York Times-bestselling novel We Are Not Ourselves has been shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. He lives with his wife and twin children in New Jersey.

Librarians’ Comments

This stunning epic follows three generations of Irish-Americans, though it’s primarily told through the eyes of  Eileen. She marries Ed, a scientist, hoping for a prosperous future. Their life is full of disputes and put to a final test when Ed is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51. This could become a draining read, but the prose is so realistic, polished – and at times, witty, that it is ultimately satisfying.

A sweeping family saga of an Irish – American family in the 20th century.

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