Paul Auster is widely regarded as one of the finest novelists of our times. So it’s with a bit of embarrassment that I have to confess I had never read a Paul Auster novel, and was keen to remedy the situation! I thought I may as well try his latest novel, Sunset Park.
The central focus of Sunset Park is a damaged young man called Miles Heller. Miles has exiled himself from his family and friends in New York because of his crippling guilt about a tragic accident that occurred when he was a teenager. He has been travelling around the country working in a variety of soul-destroying jobs as a form of self-imposed punishment. The only light in his life is the strong love he feels for a young girl named Pilar, but even this relationship is fraught with difficulties. Circumstances force Miles to leave Pilar, and he finds himself exiled again, this time to a squat in Sunset Park, New York. His return to New York makes a reunion with his family inevitable, and Miles must face up to the hurt he has caused.
It’s a complex novel and I’ve read mostly glowing reviews of Sunset Park. A few reviewers have said it’s not as good as some of his earlier work. As a first time Auster reader I can’t compare it to his other novels. But what I can say is that I thought it was a very strong novel – insightful, intelligent and a compassionate exploration of the redemptive power of love and forgiveness. So if this isn’t quite his best work, his best must be extremely impressive!!I will certainly be seeking out more Auster novels to read. Trade Paperback, $33