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Publisher's Summary

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • This “deeply immersive novel” (The Washington Post) from the author of the award–winning Preparation for the Next Life is an “epic coming-of-age tale filled with pain, heartache, fear, and undying love” (The Associated Press), as a young man’s yearning to protect his dying mother requires him to risk destroying his estranged, enigmatic, powerful father.

“From its hypnotic opening pages, we find ourselves in the sure hands of a roaming omniscient narrator, one who knows intimately the beating hearts of its two central characters” —Andre Dubus III, The New York Times Book Review

Corey Goltz grows up in the working-class outskirts of Boston as the only child of Gloria, whose ambitions were derailed early but who has always given her son everything she can. Corey, restless, dreams of leaving home for a great adventure.

Instead, when he is fifteen, the world comes crashing down upon him, when Gloria is diagnosed with ALS and, too late, his estranged father, Leonard—a man of great charisma but dubious moral character—reenters the picture. Determined to be his mother’s hero at any cost, Corey begins shouldering responsibility for her expensive medical care, pushing himself to his physical and emotional limits as her disease cruelly progresses. And as Leonard’s influence over Corey grows, Corey must dismantle the myth of his father’s genius and confront the evil that lurks beneath it.

Gritty, visceral, and profoundly stirring, The War for Gloria tells the story of a young man, straddling childhood and adulthood, whose yearning to protect his mother requires him to risk destroying his father. An indelible work from a strikingly original voice in American fiction.

©2021 Atticus Lish (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

A NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS' TOP BOOK OF THE YEAR • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: TOWN & COUNTRY, KIRKUS

The War for Gloria is an ambitious book with a lot to say about family loyalty and love . . . Lish is a sensational literary craftsman, using the words in his toolbelt to construct narrative that is at once coolly dispassionate and red hot with emotion . . . I will be thinking about The War for Gloria for a long time.” —Martha Anne Toll, NPR

“A deeply immersive novel.” —Mark Athitakis, The Washington Post    

The War for Gloria is an ambitious book with a lot to say about family loyalty and love . . . Lish is a sensational literary craftsman, using the words in his toolbelt to construct narrative that is at once coolly dispassionate and red hot with emotion . . . I will be thinking about The War for Gloria for a long time.” —Martha Anne Toll, NPR

What listeners say about The War for Gloria

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Takes a while, but worth it

I'm glad I didn't listen to the other review posted about this book. I understand where they're coming from, but I feel like they gave up too soon. I did find this novel to be a little slow and meandering at times. There just isn't anything particularly poignant about the story at first. It somehow manages to be extremely descriptive but lacks any poeticism when it comes to those descriptions. A lot of it reads like a day in the life of a teenager, his mother, his strange friend and his father. It’s matter-of-fact to the point of annoyance without any real sense of where this is all leading.

However, and it’s a big however, if the reader sticks with it they will be rewarded with a tender page-turner (or in this case, a can’t-stop-listener?) about a young man doing his best to become a good person but who is consistently beaten down by outside forces. It's a story that requires patience and a good amount of stick-to-itiveness, but I left the experience feeling truly fulfilled and wanting to read Lish's previous novel.

I understand that a lot of people will want to give up after a few hours, but I think what Lish was trying to do was really build the characters. It's something that's missing in a lot of current fiction; a plot that is driven, but we don't ultimately know what drives the character. Weeks after I finished this book, I'm still feeling all kinds of things about this book and all of them are positive.

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Disappointing

I had thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommended Atticus Lush’s previous book, “Preparation for the Next Life” powerfully written with distinct and memorable characters. I’m 5 hours into this one and am bagging it, too boring, lack of plot, etc., and find myself thinking, “please make it end because the contrast between this and his other is painful.”

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Something in it for every reader!

This is my second book by this authors, and won’t be my last.
Here is a great, heartfelt, literary tale about a teenage son and his single mother; and their real-to-life confluence of love, loyalty, and considerable life challenges. Mr. Lish is a master story-teller, where the influence of Hemingway is noted but not overdone. It was easy to fall in love with Corey (the son), to root for him; as it was easy to laugh at (and then he disgusted by) Adrian, his pal; as it was also to loathe Corey’s A-hole father. All which is to say that you’ll be swept up into this marvelous novel. I would’ve given the narrator 4.5 stars if I could’ve. His subtle shifts in tone & accent from character to character was just right, my only mild complaint being a few stretches of halting, staccato-like narration; which was understandable given Lish’s stretches of short, Hemingway-esque sentences.