Summer’s “most enchanting debut novel”

In today’s New York Times, Janet Maslin adds to a spate of over-the-top enthusiastic responses to the debut novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

The book features dogs as major characters and is published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. Morrow, another HarperCollins imprint, is currently having success with a book told from a dog’s perspective, The Art of Racing in the Rain. And, of course, Harper, another HarperCollins imprint, published Marley and Me a few years ago, but it’s nonfiction and an entirely different story.

Maslin calls The Story of Edgar Sawtelle:

the most enchanting debut novel of the summer. Written over a decade by the heretofore unknown David Wroblewski and arriving as a bolt from the blue, this is a great, big, mesmerizing read, audaciously envisioned as classic Americana. Absent the few dates and pop-cultural references that place the book somewhere in the post-Eisenhower 20th century, its unmannered style, emotional heft and sweeping ambition would keep it timeless.

It was also the cover review of the Washington Post Book World last week (6/8):

a big-hearted novel you can fall into, get lost in and finally emerge from reluctantly, a little surprised that the real world went on spinning while you were absorbed.

The book is also one of USA Today‘s Summer Picks and the #1 Indie Next Pick (the new name for ABA’s Booksense Picks, titles chosen by independent booksellers and featured in their stores). All of the reviews convey amazing enthusiasm, but if you have time to read just one, check the Christian Science Monitor. It begins:

I am completely smitten. The object of my newfound devotion is, alas, fictional. She’s a heroine of surpassing grace and faithfulness, equaled only by her intelligence and sense of smell. This paragon of virtue is named Almondine. And I should probably mention that she’s a dog.

Most libraries have it on order in modest quantities with holds beginning to build. It’s available on audio and large type, but few libraries have purchased it in those formats so far.


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Local information: Wroblewski grew up in rural Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest where The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is set. He now lives in Colorado.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle David Wroblewski

  • Hardcover: $25.95
  • Publisher: Ecco (June 10, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0061374229
  • ISBN-13: 9780061374227
  • Audio CD: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • ISBN-13: 9781436149587
  • Large Print Paperback: $25.95
  • Publisher: HarperLuxe; (August 19, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0061691623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061691621

One Response to “Summer’s “most enchanting debut novel””

  1. Jeffrey Gegner Says:

    The publication date of the audiobook edition is unclear. It’s listed on the Recorded Books website as being one of their 3rd quarter 2008 releases. Information is sketchy so far and there’s no indication who the narrator is.