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Interview: Jennifer Egan Asks, How Much Sharing Is Too Much Sharing?

'I'm looking for the action in my own head.'
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  • The Candy House
  • 'I'm looking for the action in my own head.'

Publisher's Summary

Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Oprah Daily, Glamour, USA TODAY, Parade, Bustle, San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The Boston Globe, Tampa Bay Times, BuzzFeed, and Vulture

“A compelling read that showcases Egan’s masterful storytelling.”—Time

“Dazzling.”—Vogue

“Radiant, exhilarating.”—Slate

“Mesmerizing…A thought-provoking examination of how and why we change.”—People

From one of the most celebrated writers of our time comes an “inventive, effervescent” (Oprah Daily) novel about the memory and quest for authenticity and human connection.

The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is forty, with four kids, restless, and desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—which allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share your memories in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes.

In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter, and a chapter of tweets. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also a moving testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for connection, family, privacy, and love.

“A beautiful exploration of loss, memory, and history” (San Francisco Chronicle), “this is minimalist maximalism. It’s as if Egan compressed a big 19th-century novel onto a flash drive” (The New York Times). 

©2022 Jennifer Egan. All rights reserved (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Editor's Pick

You can’t resist The Candy House
When I heard that 2022 would be the year Jennifer Egan was coming out with a companion to her mind-expanding, Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad, I felt an immediate need to revisit this book I first read way back in 2010. I downloaded and listened and realized, wow—I missed a lot the first time around, or maybe it’s me that’s changed over the past 10-plus years? And then it was time to take in The Candy House. I didn’t have to go through this preparation—both novels stand on their own—but it was a very satisfying experiment. The Candy House is so much fun! It comes alive in dozens of entwined stories, performed by an incredible cast of narrators. It’s a world a lot like this one, if this world had a utopian/dystopian product known as Own Your Unconscious, a cube that lets a user upload his or her memories, tap into the memories of others who’ve uploaded theirs, and watch them like movies. It’s all so seemingly unimaginable yet inevitable at the same time. I’m still a little dizzy. —Tricia F., Audible Editor

What listeners say about The Candy House

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She did it again!! Love it!

This is a fitting “sister book” to the Goon Squad. It has its own arc and charisma so never feels like ”part 2.” It keeps readers thinking about cutting edge issues that affect daily life with compelling characters snd storylines. The narrators are wonderful. A must read!!!

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What???

Not sure this held up to the hype. Many different points of view that are kinda sorta connected but not really. At first, I liked the idea of the novel but it just didn’t pan out. This book was all over the place and the ending was just strange.

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Robert Altman-esk

Egan’s “Candy House,” returns to many of “The Goon Squad’s” original characters and their grown childrens’ lives. Her character portals are succinct, you develop sympathy for all of them, and for myself at least, marvel at the idea of accessing a collective conscious, reliving the before smart phones days, smoking the good stuff with friends, attending great concerts, and the post pandemic age where extracting spying “brain weevils” is known to exist.

From Mondrian to Mandela, I marvel at the tapped consciousness and inspiration she draws her ideas from. A new favorite author.

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Loved it!

I started to read this book, but decided it would be so much more awesome to hear the various characters voiced by actors. And it was great! The performance was so vivid that I felt like I was watching a movie while driving my car. I really hope that there will be a sequel to this book. Maybe even a series. The concept is just so intriguing that it will stick with me for life.

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Creative, we’ll written exploration of the dark & light technology effects of technology on various interconnected human experie

Incredible story and world building and complex, detailed characters. Limp, disconnected and unsatisfying ending that fails to justify the tantalizing subject matter with any real landing or context for the many layers, perspectives and storylines - which are mostly told beautifully. Worth the read, though. Really wonderful parallel reality possibilities and consequences.

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Highest Level Work

Jennifer Egan surpasses her own considerable achievements with this novel, one that follows a group of characters—some connected through family, others through business, sometimes both—through several decades. An investigation of relationships, consciousness, technology, identity, and story telling, The Candy House deftly moves through many genres and perspectives yet maintains a novelistic coherence that never draws attention to its own virtuosity. Instead, we are immersed in characters who develop, plots that surprise and voices that charm. The plots and technologies Egan imagines are ingenious, by turns action packed and reflective. The cast of readers supports the novel’s diverse attractions. This is novel writing—and reading—at its best.

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Stunning

Egan makes me think of Faulkner and García Márquez in her creation of her own universe of reappearing characters and she keeps writing novels I wish I could write. I finished this book experiencing goosebumps and tears because I hate to part with it.

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Masterful.

I almost did not read based on several reviews, but this should not be missed by serious readers, philosophers, sociologists, historians, publicists, psychiatrists, linguists, futurists, among otherists.

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Wow!

Smart, satirical, captivating, and the performance is all that and more! Bravo!
I’m eager to read more by this author.

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Amazing!

Instructions to a spy! So perfect for the time and the setting of the book.

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