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Fiction Literary

The Last Chairlift

by (author) John Irving

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price

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The fifteenth novel from one of the world’s greatest authors—a ghost story and a love story, spanning eight decades of sexual politics.
“[Irving's] enormous imagination, his storytelling gifts, and his intelligence are all on display.” —Publishers Weekly
“A multigenerational epic full of [Irving’s] old tricks.” —Los Angeles Times

John Irving has written some of the most acclaimed books of our time—among them, The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and A Widow for One Year. TIME magazine describes his work as “epic and extraordinary and controversial and sexually brave.” Now Irving has written what he calls his last long novel—only shorter ones ahead.
In Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships. Little Ray, as she is called, finishes nowhere near the podium, but she manages to get pregnant. Back home, in New England, Little Ray becomes a ski instructor. Her son, Adam, grows up in a family that defies conventions and evades questions concerning the eventful past. Years later, looking for answers, Adam will go to Aspen. In the Hotel Jerome, where he was conceived, Adam will meet some ghosts; they aren’t the first or the last ghosts he sees.
If you’ve never read a John Irving novel, you’ll be captivated by storytelling that is tragic and comic, embodied by characters you’ll remember long after you’ve finished their story. If you have read John Irving before, you’ll rediscover the themes that made him a bard of alternative families—a visionary voice on the subject of sexual freedom. The author’s favourite tropes are here, but this meticulously plotted novel has powerful twists in store for readers. The Last Chairlift breaks new artistic ground for Irving, who has been called “among the very best storytellers at work today” (The Philadelphia Inquirer); “the American Balzac” (The Nation); “a pop star of literature, beloved by all generations” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich); and “the voice of social justice and compassion in contemporary American literature” (The Globe and Mail). With The Last Chairlift, readers will once again be in John Irving’s thrall.

About the author

John Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire. His first novel, "Setting Free the Bears", was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven. Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times--winning once, in 1980, for his novel "The World According to Garp". He received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for his short story "Interior Space." In 2000, Mr. Irving won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Cider House Rules". In 2013, he won a Lambda Literary Award for his novel "In One Person". An international writer--his novels have been translated into more than thirty-five languages--John Irving lives in Toronto. His all-time bestselling novel, in every language, is "A Prayer for Owen Meany".

John Irving's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Here the consistent pleasure is an extended family whose distinctive voices deliver thoughtful messages of tolerance, understanding, and affection for those who are different.” Kirkus Reviews

“[Irving's] enormous imagination, his storytelling gifts, and his intelligence are all on display.” —Publishers Weekly

“Irving’s majestic latest . . . is a multigenerational portrait as colorful and varied as it is complex and quirky as it echoes and pays homage to the author’s own rich literary history. . . . Irving infuses the narrative with countless comedic set pieces, some farcical, others wistfully tender. The emotionally resonant result is sweepingly cinematic, reminding the reader that Irving has a screenwriting Oscar. Autobiographical snippets and splashes of brilliance buttress the themes of death and aging, memory and identity, in an elegiac testimony to the many facets of familial love. . . . A big, immersive novel.” —Booklist

“Irving is a staunch supporter and frank discusser of sexual minorities, sexual politics, and alternative families; here he handles them with grace and gusto. This time, he layers in skiing lore and ghosts among those core topics, creating a hefty heart-wrenching ghost story and family love story of the sort that only Irving can craft.” Library Journal

“Irving's old magic emerges: his wit and fearlessness around sex, and his grasp of the wide ripple effects of intolerance.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Irving is at home in the supernatural; he traverses the membrane between this world and the next with comfort and ease. . . . The Last Chairlift is eminently readable, stocked with characters and relationships easy to invest in. . . . Irving has been cranking out novels for fifty-four years, establishing a consistent generosity of spirit that continues through his most recent book.” Boston Globe
“Irving can merge tragedy and comedy and set a scene like nobody else.”The Independent
“Powerfully cinematic. . . . Irving’s portrayal of a shooting in a crowded venue, for instance, is rendered with such visual acuity and kinetic energy that I’d swear I saw it rather than read it. . . . Whenever The Last Chairlift is actively expanding the boundaries of what a family can be—the story feels vital and exciting.” The Washington Post

“Irving fills the pages with history, insight, opinion, and themes of family love and tolerance.... fans of the author's trademark homespun prose and delicate way with words will find much to savor here.” Bay Area Reporter

“A story that’s packed with emotion, insight and compassion for our flawed humanity.” —Book Page

“[Irving] consistently avoids the cliches of set-up and setting and deftly draws you in as a witness to the outlandish.” The Guardian
“A Dickens for our time. . . . It is Irving’s affection and empathy for his characters that shines.” —NOW
“A multigenerational epic full of [Irving’s] old tricks.” —Los Angeles Times

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