Beautiful, bittersweet….This fervent story of love and loss, of the perils and pleasures of intimacy, is depicted with a sure, light touch and with universal resonance and appeal.”
New York Times Book Review
“A meditation about love…a lofty and hopeful message that transcends any question of gender or sexual preference.”
Washington Post Book World
“Mr. Olshan achieves a fine balance of the comic and the dramatic, the lyrical and the realistic.
The Wall Street Journal
“Wracked with emotion…a deep love story.”
National Public Radio’s All Things Considered
“Lyrical and Evocative.”
The Boston Globe
“Bold and transcendent.”
“A beautifully written story of love, betrayal and loss.
“A moving narrative of loss, memory, survival and finally of hope that will appear to a far wider audience than the specific community it depicts.
“The novel has much to enchant, not only how wonderful it must be to swim like a god, but also an ability to address real intimacy in honest and vigorous ways. Sex, in particular, is written about with rare beauty in this novel, and Joseph Olshan enters some tender and uncharted territory to powerful effect.”
The Independent on Sunday
“Passionate and deeply felt….Olshan’s writing is consistently excellent, and his long, careful observations about obsession, loss and rejection are transcendent.”
“Intensely personal and infused with a rare degree of intimacy…beautifully etched characters.
“One of the boldest and most accessible stories about loneliness and the restless search for unity since
Kiss of the Spider Woman
and The Crying Game
. Olshan evokes the voice of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room
in his latest excursion into dark waters.” Thom Jones
“This story of gay men clearly touches on the universal truths that are vivid and true for straight readers as well.” Robert Olen Butler
“Nightswimmer is mesmerizing – a bold, darkly sensual novel about a man tormented by the past and uneasy with the present. Will Kaplan is our Virgil in gay New York in the 1990’s, where young men are as afraid of intimacy as they are of death. To those of us who don’t live in the culture, Will Kaplan is a trustworthy guide, at once steeped in its excesses and distant enough from them to cast a coolly critical eye on all he sees.” Elizabeth Benedict, author of
“This novel is as taut as a swimmer’s body, as dangerous as the currents its heroes plunge into. Joseph Olshan carves new ground as he speaks passionate and convincingly on love, mens’ love: inextricable from lust, deadly serious, terrifyingly beautiful, joyously untamed. Olshan reminds us that living fully still requires us to betray the past, offering ourselves to an unknown future that might just require more from us than the strength we reserved for swimming back to shore. This book dares all of us to plunge more deeply into our capacity for feeling.” Kate Wheeler, author of
Not Where I Started From
Olshan’s novels are novels of great obsession, of transcendent moments of perfect love set against a backdrop of hovering betrayal and death. He works hard to create a realist texture of both mundane and telling details.”
“Joseph Olshan tackles some big themes here – most notably the power of sexual attraction and the mistakes people often make when they try to transform their lives. Furthermore, his portrait of a cross-generational gay relationship is affectingly sensitive and subtle. A rich and intelligent novel.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Joseph Olshan, in his fascinating new novel, brings old love into the light, even as his book creates an intense interest in the future of the characters and their emotional fates.”
NPR, All Things Considered
“A tangled web of love, lies and life in the shadow of an unnamable disease.
“A huge, sweeping canvas….Vanitas is the sort of novel you can read and read again, each time detecting something different. The Times
“Joseph Olshan’s Vanitas
is a brilliant affirmation of the wonders and mysteries of love in the face of one of the most terrifying diseases in human history. Beautifully written, entirely honest and unfailingly dramatic, Vanitas is the best novel to date by one of America’s finest fiction writers.” Howard Frank Mosher, author of
and On Kingdom Mountain
“Joseph Olshan has always written powerful narratives of contemporary life, but he has greatly extended his range in Vanitas
. His latest book is a skillful weave of unconventional relationships, which have become more and more common in our times but are only now just beginning to be written about. And yet every single page of his new book evinces the concerns of love and beauty, or raising a family, of death, and even eternity. This is a daring novel of an entirely new order. Francesca Duranti, author of
The House on Moon Lake
IN CLARA'S HANDS
"Olshan holds together this tale of a family seeking comfort in difficult times with wit and empathy." The Times (London)
“Joseph Olshan writes so vivaciously that his seventh novel ticks faster than a stopwatch. He loves his characters to bits, which is why they are so memorable. Humor. Feeling. Perfect Pitch. Olshan has it all.
“This dreamily insistent book moves from Brooklyn to Venice and then to California, from a fading beauty parlor to a plane crash and a cancer hospital. These snapshots of different lives are both intense and gripping.”
“Add to this the bittersweet stories of family and friends, and it’s hard not to get misty-eyed.
“Joseph Olshan’s fictional Westchester is completely convincing. He also provides moments of domestic drama that are clearly authentic. The new book is about obsession with guilt – and blame – in the aftermath of a tragic accident. It is brisk and efficient, with a powerful, dark vision of suburbia.”
The New York Times Book Review
“…a finely written and compassionate book. Its quality is immediately apparent. For all that the novel is poignantly accurate on contemporary social nuance, none of Olshan’s characters have that two-dimensional quality that afflicts characters plagiarized from real life. All of them ring with an imaginative reality only available to a writer who does his field research among the images of his own thoughts. It is a novel characterized by poetic instinct rather than documentary panache.”
The Sunday Times
“The book is unputdownable. It’s not just that Joseph Olshan is a born story-teller, nor even that Billy’s childish guilt is richly imagined, creatively true. It’s that Olshan’s emotional instincts are so acute that at every important moment he strikes the right note. And his understanding of the natural juxtaposition of the tragic and the commonplace is faultless. It is this instinct for emotional truth that makes bestsellers.”
The Evening Standard
“Artful in its unfolding of the fears and yearning of Billy Kaplan over a 15-year period, and sharply evocative in its scenes of upper-middle-class life in suburban Westchester County, The Waterline
has many poignant moments. Olshan is also a knowing reader of the heart. He makes his long and never-ending road to inner peace with familiar signposts of universal pain. He has a fine eye for nature and a good ear for dialogue.
will stay with you. It’s depiction of how a chance incident on a sunny summer’s day can trigger the destruction of a family is chilling and moving.
"Joseph Olshan has an outstanding talent for reassembling and analyzing the splinters of broken families. The Waterline is deeply moving, and full of unexpected psychological twists and turns."
Olshan brilliantly captures a life in an incident: a broken marriage in a frayed bedspread, a grief or an infidelity in the domestic smells which waft through the book.
The Independent on Sunday
A WARMER SEASON
“A talented second novel….Authentically moving.”
New York Times Book Review
“Olshan writes prose that sings.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“With the singularly tender humor that pervades his fiction, Olshan demonstrates that the youth we worship is full of the pain we have forgotten.”
“In the skilled hands of Joseph Olshan, the familiar becomes fresh and vibrant. A Warmer Season is a work of solid substance, shrewdly observed and written with an unsentimental compassion and elegance.”
“Joseph Olsha finds great souls where nobody else would think to look for them.”
“Fine writing and sensitive characterizations…Joseph Olshan is a gifted writer who subtly lays bare his characters’ emotions, investing familiar themes – death, divorce, coming-of-age –with vitality. This is a haunting, memorable story.
“A triumph…a very affecting story. Olshan writes with simple elegance that almost imperceptibly pulls us next to his characters’ hearts.”
The Kirkus Reviews
“First rate….We are given a sense genuinely rare in novels of how different peoples’ lives are from one another and how narrowly defined by circumstance….Olshan is offering us a remarkable piece of work.”
“If Woody Allen’s serious films were made into novels, this is what they would be like. Olshan has a good eye for detail and a sharp ear for dialogue.”
WINNER OF THE LONDON TIMES/JONATHAN CAPE YOUNG WRITERS’ COMPETITION
“And impressive novel….
is notable precisely because of the risks Joseph Olshan has taken that do succeed, not the least of which is its sensistive and often comical treatment of the unique love between a precocious American boy and a wise, if tormented Jamaican woman.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Olshan’s achievement is to have created a separate and entirely believable world, carefully, comically and humanely drawn. It is held together by much tension and contains many excellent and recognizable scenes and embarrassments…A fine debut.
The Times Literary Supplement
“Joseph Olshan skillfully juxtaposes two very different cultures, the financially successful but emotionally deficient Harts, the products or victims of a modern ago, and the relatively poor in money, but rich in warmth and spirit, Jamaicans.”
The Washington Post
“A work of art.”
Los Angeles Times
“An exceptionally fine study of love and growing pains.”
“Intelligently conceived and psychologically convincing…Someone to read and watch.”
The Financial Times
“In Clara’s Heart lies a depth of feeling that is rarely told so well.”
“It’s terrific. Joseph Olshan is clearly enormously talented. He has an almost extra-sensory understanding of the characters he writes about, and he writes magnificently well. He is funny, too.”
The Daily Telegraph
Clara is a triumphant creation, with all her provocative richness and scariness. The gently perceptive novel about coming of age in suburbia maintains a high level of narration in unfolding a relationship that is as delicious as it is fleeting. After the book is closed its fragrant intensity lingers.
New York Newsday
“With its intricate characterization, a plot that weaves together two very different cultures, and a narrative enriched by fresh, often poignant dialogue, this is an extraordinary first novel. The intensity of their friendship, and the dark secret of her past that Clara is determined to hide from David, creates an emotional chaos that is skillfully portrayed and finally resolved in this wonderful novel.” P
Joseph Olshan has achieved the rare distinction of crafting a brand new plot.”
The New York Daily News
“In language that is devastatingly accurate in tone and intensity, Joseph Olshan has painted a complex portrait on an unusual couple meeting under unusual circumstances and very often clashing, as their cultures clash, but emerging triumphant in an ending that will satisfy even the most hard-boiled reader. Olshan is a remarkably gifted writer whose novel will be lovingly remembered.”
San Diego Tribune
“Extraordinarily mature….Here is a writer in total command of his narrative.” Ian McEwan
“Joseph Olshan writes with aching sensitivity and depth. One always has the sense that he cares fervently about his characters, for he illuminates their lives, with delicate tenderness, from within.” Louise Erdrich
“A remarkable writer.” Grace Paley
is a fresh and involving novel. Joseph Olshan has remarkable empathy with his characters, and he writes some scathingly funny and perceptive scenes. As I read this novel I kept thinking, ‘this is a story I have never read before, but I believe these people totally.’” Gail Godwin
“I was constantly moved, both to laugther and to tears, by this extraordinarily sensitive love story of two mismatched people.” Dominick Dunne
“…a rich and compelling work, an extraordinary first novel by a writer that gives voice to a generation many of us
would never speak.
glitters with an honestly and with a story to tell. Joseph Olshan is to be soundly congratulated and his next novel eagerly awaited.” Israel Horowitz