On our Crystal Ball as the potential surprise hit of the season, The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg (Hachette/Grand Central) arrives at #133 on the USA Today Best-Selling Books list and at #25 on the NYT Extended Hardcover Fiction list, after its first week on sale.
The book is often compared to The Corrections and author Jonathan Franzen himself gave it a rare blurb, “The Middlesteins had me from its very first pages, but it wasn’t until is final pages that I fully appreciated the range of Attenberg’s sympathy and the artistry of her storytelling.”
The two books may also compare in best seller history. The Corrections made its debut on the USA Today list in a similarly low position, at #150, but rose to #1 after five weeks.
Consumer reviews, while strong, have not been as widespread as would be expected from the advance attention (the NYT relegated it to a mention in their “Newly Released Books” column). In the Washington Post, Ron Charles says, “The nimble structure of this novel is just one of the elements that keep it engaging.”
The Chicago Tribune review was also very strong, saying that it “stun[s] with its blunt, unsparing and unflinching depictions of family dysfunction among the Jewish-American middle class in Chicago and its suburbs.”
Holds are heavy in libraries where ordering was light.