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Book Cover for: The Unfolding, A. M. Homes

The Unfolding

A. M. Homes

Critic Reviews


Based on 22 reviews on

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"[A] much-anticipated, wickedly funny and sharply observed political satire...This novel of politics and family brings readers to the fault line of American politics." --The New York Times Book Review

"Beyond being good or bad, the characters in this impressive book are, above all things, unpredictable."--Wall Street Journal

One family will remake America. Even if they fall apart trying. A.M. Homes delivers us back to ourselves in this stunning alternative history that is both terrifyingly prescient, deeply tender and devastatingly funny.

The Big Guy loves his family, money and country. Undone by the results of the 2008 presidential election, he taps a group of like-minded men to reclaim their version of the American Dream. As they build a scheme to disturb and disrupt, the Big Guy also faces turbulence within his family. His wife, Charlotte, grieves a life not lived, while his 18-year-old daughter, Meghan, begins to realize that her favorite subject--history--is not exactly what her father taught her.

In a story that is as much about the dynamics within a family as it is about the desire for those in power to remain in power, Homes presciently unpacks a dangerous rift in American identity, prompting a reconsideration of the definition of truth, freedom and democracy--and exploring the explosive consequences of what happens when the same words mean such different things to people living together under one roof.

From the writer who is always "razor sharp and furiously good" (Zadie Smith), a darkly comic political parable braided with a Bildungsroman that takes us inside the heart of a divided country.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Publish Date: Sep 5th, 2023
  • Pages: 416
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.20in - 5.40in - 0.90in - 0.75lb
  • EAN: 9780735225374
  • Categories: PoliticalAlternative HistoryLiterary

About the Author

A.M. Homes is the author of thirteen books, among them the best-selling memoir The Mistress' Daughter; the novels This Book Will Save Your Life, The End of Alice, and Jack; and the short story collections Days of Awe, The Safety of Objects and Things You Should Know. She also writes for film and television and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.

Critics’ reviews

Praise for this book

"A sharply observed, wickedly funny political satire by the reliably brilliant A.M. Homes."--The New York Times

"A strange, scary, often very funny mashup of political thriller and family melodrama...Homes, a fluid writer and brilliant thinker utterly besotted with American politics and history, deftly weaves actual historical facts and personalities into the fictional fabric of the novel." -- Associated Press

"A sharp new satire... Homes captures the flora and fauna of America's aristocracy with exquisite precision... The dialogue in these cringingly hilarious scenes sparks off the page with such vibrancy that I felt as if I were in the room where it happened... [The Unfolding] offers irresistible reflection on how the audacity of hope got pushed off the rails and fell into the slough of despond." --Washington Post

"A dazzling portrait of a family--and a country--in flux. A story about what happens when truths that once seemed self-evident turn out to be neither self-evident nor even true. A.M. Homes has perfectly captured an America as it lurches toward freak-out, and a family as it shreds the lies it's been living by. The Unfolding is hilarious and shocking and heartbreaking and just a little bit deranged--in other words, it's a book that feels like what it feels like to be alive right now." --Nathan Hill, author of The Nix

"'This can't happen here' -- that's how A.M. Homes' frightening new novel begins. What can't happen, in the mind of its delusional protagonist, is the election of Barack Obama. What follows is sad, funny, surreal -- kind of like living in the 21st century. It earns its place in a growing library of books reacting to, understanding and contextualizing the Jan. 6 insurrection." --The Chicago Tribune

"What hooked me early on was [Homes's] unvarnished fearlessness, her startlingly refreshing honesty, her willingness to unsettle the reader. Her wit and precision and the pitch, pitch dark of her humor. Her iconic voice, at turns provocative and lurid and absurd and hilarious and poignant, is always whip-smart and timely... Homes never falters on the level of craft. She is a master of scene and dialogue at cross purposes. The novel brims with razor sharp prose and zings with her sensibility." --The Chicago Review of Books

"Cannily crafted, it feels like peering into a top-secret world." --The Hollywood Reporter

"A riotously and unsettlingly funny look at one family's unraveling in the wake of the 2008 election....The Unfolding, like Homes's previous works, is packed with her particular brand of irreverent dark humor, which can simultaneously provoke and probe, frustrate and illuminate. Despite its topical and prescient elements, which certainly pack their own ideological punches, the novel is at its best when it's examining the intricacies of its characters. Meghan, in particular, stands out as a startlingly original and yet deeply resonant millennial daughter who experiences the end of her parents' world as the beginning of her own. With its pitch-perfect dialogue and antic pace, The Unfolding is both a return to form for Homes (Days of Awe) and an unsettling vision of the tender belly beneath some of the most terrifying dilemmas of the times." --Shelf Awareness

"Ever since the publication of her first novel, Jack (1989), and continuing through her 2018 story collection, Days of Awe, A.M. Homes has focused with laserlike precision on some of the darkest corners of contemporary American life. It makes sense, then, that in her provocative novel The Unfolding, she would turn to a bitingly satirical exploration of our current political predicament...The Unfolding is a novel that cries out for a sequel. On the other hand, Homes cannily suggests, maybe that sequel is playing out right before our eyes." -- BookPage

"Homes' incisive satire is galvanizing in its insights, sharply hilarious, and thoughtfully, even hopefully, compassionate." -- Booklist

"From her first book onward, A.M. Homes has been challenging us to look at fiction, the world, and one another as we haven't done--because we haven't had the nerve, the eyes, the dire and dispassionate imagination. Gripping, sad, funny, by turns aching and antic and, as always, exceedingly well-observed and written, The Unfolding opens up another one of her jagged windows, at times indistinguishable from a crack, in the world that is always unfolding, and always vanishing, around us. " -- Michael Chabon, bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Moonglow and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

"A terrific black comedy, written almost entirely in pitch-perfect dialogue, that feels terrifyingly close to the unfunny truth." -- Salman Rushdie, New York Times bestselling author of The Golden House and Quichotte

"The Unfolding is Swiftian in its energy and bite, yet brimful of compassion and emotion. The entwining of the personal and the political feels as if it's born again to a sparkling new life. How does she do it?" -- Neel Mukherjee, author of Man Booker finalist The Lives of Others

"How can a book be hilarious and chilling at the same time? A.M. Homes's The Unfolding is a modern masterpiece, a scary immersion deep into the the heart of American power. I will never look at a white man in khakis reading historical non-fiction in business class the same way again." -Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story

"The Unfolding is wonderful. Compelling, funny, horrifying, and tremendously astute, this novel cuts right to the bone." -- Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment and Missionaries

"The book is a disarming and heartbreaking family romance, a diagnosis of our present dilemma, and an exhibition of Delillo-sharp nerve and vision, told in dialogue that crackles and pops from the force of its internal contradictions." -- Jonathan A. Lethem, National Book Critics Circle's Award-winning author of Motherless Brooklyn


"A.M. Homes skillfully circles and tugs at the question of what it means to live in flawed, fragile, hungry human bodies . . . DAYS OF AWE is sliced through with Homes's dark humor . . . one wants to read passages of a Homes story aloud because they are so fine . . . DAYS OF AWE feels like the part of the day when the sun is about to go down and the light is brighter while the shadows are darker. Everything has a sharp edge, is strikingly beautiful and suddenly also a little menacing." --Ramona Ausubel, The New York Times Book Review

"Exuberantly transgressive." --O, the Oprah Magazine

"[Homes] has shown a unique penchant for cracking open the dark heart of human nature -- with irreverent wit, devastating empathy and haunting shocks . . . DAYS OF AWE [is] a memorable assortment of new tales about family, love, death, and an unqualified man who somehow stumbles into becoming a populist political candidate." --Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

"Homes's keen ear for speech--surreal as her characters' conversations often are--lends itself to varying degrees of self-aware misunderstanding, highlighting the complexity of language and the challenges . . . The impossibility of knowing another person completely is one of life's painful truths, and [this] collection remind us of that--but [it] also shows that there are, at least, tools available to help us try." --Vanity Fair

"Fascinating . . . I consumed these stories exactly like a spectator of a good fight or a neighbor peering through the hedge, and I felt sharply observed in turn. Homes, with her fierce sharp wit, reveals her characters' deep flaws. No one gets away with anything and the spectacle is delightful." --Molly Livingston, The Paris Review Daily

"With dark humor and sharp dialogue, Homes plumbs the depths of everyday American anxieties through stories about unexpected situations." --Time

"In the title story, a Holocaust survivor taps into a theme of the collection when he describes the way people hold the history of previous generations inside them. 'We carry it with us, not just in our grandmother's silver, ' he says, 'but in our bodies, the cells of our hearts.'" --Wall Street Journal


Winner of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction

"An entertaining, old-fashioned American story about second chances...A.M. Homes is a writer I'll pretty much follow anywhere because she's indeed so smart, it's scary; yet she's not without heart...May We Be Forgiven [is] deeply imbued with the kind of It's A Wonderful Life-type belief in redemption that we Americans will always be suckers for, and rightly so." --Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

"Cheever country with a black comedy upgrade...Homes crams a tremendous amount of ambition into May We Be Forgiven, with its dark humor, its careening plot, its sex-strewn suburb and a massive cast of memorable characters...its riskiest content, however, is something different: sentiment. This is a Tin Man story, in which the zoned-out Harry slowly grows a heart." --Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times

"Darkly funny...the moments shared between this ad hoc family are the novel's most endearing...Homes' signature trait is a fearless inclination to torment her characters and render their failures, believing that the reader is sophisticated enough - and forgiving enough - to tag along." --Katie Arnold-Ratliff, Time Magazine

"Homes, whose masterful handling of suburban dystopia merits her own adjective, may have just written her midcareer magnum opus with this portrait of a flawed Nixonian bent on some sort of emotional amnesty." --Christopher Bollen, Interview

"At once tender and uproariously of the strangest, most miraculous journeys in recent fiction, not unlike a man swimming home to his lonely house, one swimming pool at a time: it is an act of desperation turned into one of grace." --John Freeman, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A big American story with big American themes, the saga of the triumph of a new kind of self-invented nuclear family over cynicism, apathy, loneliness, greed, and technological tyranny...this novel has a strong moral core, neither didactic nor judgmental, that holds out the possibility of redemption through connection." -Kate Christensen, Elle

"A.M. Homes has long been one of our most important and original writers of fiction. May We Be Forgiven is her most ambitious as well as her most accessible novel to date; sex and violence invade the routines of suburban domestic life in a way that reminded me of The World According to Garp, although in the end it's a thoroughly original work of imagination." -Jay McInerney, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Life

"I started this book in the A.M., finished in the P.M., and couldn't sleep all night. Ms. Homes just gets better and better." --Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Our Country Friends

"What if whoever wrote the story of Job had a sense of humor? Nixon is pondered. One character donates her organs. Another tries to grow a heart. A seductive minefield of a novel from A.M. Homes." --John Sayles, author of A Moment in the Sun

"I started reading A.M. Homes twenty years ago. Wild and funny, questioning and true, she is a writer to go travelling with on the journey called life." --Jeanette Winterson, New York Times bestselling author of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?


"A compelling, devastating, and furiously good book written with an honesty few of us would risk." --Zadie Smith

"Fierce and eloquent." --The New York Times Book Review

"As startling and riveting as her fiction . . . a lacerating memoir in which the formerly powerless child triumphs with the help of a mighty pen." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Rich in humanity and humor . . . Homes combines an unfussy candor with a deliciously droll, quirky wit. . . . Her energy and urgency become infectious." --USA Today

"I fell in love with it from the first page and read compulsively to the end." --Amy Tan

"As a memoirist, A.M. Homes takes a characteristically fierce and fearless approach. And she has a whopper of a personal story to tell." --Chicago Tribune


"Homes' dark delivery . . . is in full regalia here. . . . Laugh-out loud funny." --The Boston Globe

"An absolute masterpiece . . . Homes writes ecstatically, and like no one else." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

"I think this brave story of a lost man's reconnection with the world could become a generational touchstone, like Catch-22, The Monkey Wrench Gang, or The Catcher in the Rye. . . . And hey, maybe it will save somebody's life." --Stephen King

Hilarious . . . Homes writes in the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut and has the talent to pull it off." --San Francisco Chronicle


"Homes...has the ability to scare you half to death....[She is] devastating...a very dangerous writer." --Washington Post Book World

"A commanding turns witty and unnerving, and at times almost unbearable in its emotional intensity." --Wall Street Journal

"Intriguing...captures a world spinning out of control....Homes is at her best evoking the pathos and obsession at the center of relationships between therapist and patient, mother and child, husband and wife. She is also wickedly funny. [This is] a psychologically gripping story." --San Francisco Chronicle


"Enthralling . . . full of subversive humor and truth . . . original and stiletto sharp." --The Washington Post

"Wonderfully skewed stories . . . sharp, funny, and playful . . . Homes is confident and consistent in her odd departures from life as we know it, sustaining credibility by getting details right. A fully engaged imagination [is] at work--and play." --Amy Hempel, The Los Angeles Times

"Alarmingly good . . . It is hard to say exactly who Homes's predecessors are--Roald Dahl, Rachel Ingalls, and J.D. Salinger all come to mind--but in many ways she is not unlike Cheever." --The Village Voice

"These stories are remarkable. They are awesomely well-written. In the sense of arousing fear and wonder in the reader they entertain, but what they principally bring us is a sense of recognition . . . Here are all the things that even today, even in our frank outspoken times, we don't talk about. We think of them punishingly in sleepless nights." --Ruth Rendell

"An unnerving glimpse through the windows of other people's lives. A.M. Homes is a provocative and eloquent writer, and her vision of the way we live now is anything but safe." --Meg Wolitzer