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The Road Home (Paperback)
August 2008 Indie Next List
“Lev, a recent immigrant from Eastern Europe to London, washes dishes in a posh restaurant, works as a migrant laborer, learns to love to cook, falls in love, and is one of the most magnificent, heartfelt, and melancholy men you could ever hope to meet.”
— Patricia Burns Balmer, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, OR
In the wake of factory closings and his beloved wife's death, Lev makes his way from Eastern Europe to London, seeking work to support his mother and his little daughter. After a spell of homelessness, he finds a job in the kitchen of a posh restaurant and a room in the house of an appealing Irishman who has already lost his family. Never mind that Lev must sleep in a bunk bed surrounded by plastic toys--he has found a friend and shelter. However constricted his life in England remains, he compensates by daydreaming of home, by having an affair with a younger restaurant worker, and by trading gossip and ambitions via cell phone with his hilarious friend Rudi, who, dreaming of the wealthy West, lives largely for his battered Chevrolet.
Homesickness dogs Lev, not only for nostalgic reasons, but because he doesn't belong, body or soul, to his new country--but can he really go home again? Rose Tremain's prodigious talents as a prose writer are on full display in THE ROAD HOME, and her novel never loses sight of what is truly important in the lives we lead.
About the Author
Rose Tremain's fiction has won the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music and Silence) and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (Restoration) and the Orange Prize (The Colour). Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker and The Paris Review, among other periodicals, and one was selected for The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008. Rose Tremain lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer Richard Holmes.
"The Road Home is thematically rich, dealing with loss and separation, mourning and melancholia....As always, Tremain's writing has a delicious, crunchy precision."
-The Observer (UK)
"Memorable. . .The journey through alienation toward self-respect and prosperity runs on a well-traveled road, but Tremain's vivid prose and attention to detail make this incarnation both convincing and pleasurable."
-The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
"This is a finely balanced novel of urgent humanity...The Road Home should keep you gripped...and fraught with anxious sympathy."
-The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
"Rose Tremain brings the full tone and range of her novelist's imagination to bear on Lev, giving him, besides his enduring and endearing grief, humour, a romantic temperament, a genius for intimate male friendship and a poets' eye for
-Times Literary Supplement (UK)
"At once a mystery story, a psychological exploration and a novel of
ideas. That it should succeed and provoke on these various levels pays
high tribute to Tremain's intellect."
-New York Times Book Review
"A magical novel...which offers great beauty, great ugliness, great wisdom."
"Wise, timely and emotionally satisfying, Rose Tremain's characters are immediately recognisable as is her London seen through the eyes of her Eastern European migrant."
-Judges' citation, the 2008 Costa Book Awards
"This is a powerfully imagined story and a wonderful feat of emotional empathy, told with great warmth and humor."
-Judges' citation, the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction
"Like Amy Bloom's recent novel, Away, or Ha Jin's A Free Life, Whitbread Award winner Tremain has written a worthy addition to the growing body of work centered on the loneliness and frustration of the immigrant experience."
"A sort of anti-Candide...Lev manages to be both a symbol of migrant workers and a fully developed character in his own right...an engaging, enjoyable, and informative read."
"Tremain simultaneously constructs a subtly detailed mosaic of
personal and cultural distinctions and conflicts.... Rudi is an ingenious comic counterpart to Candide's annoyingly optimistic
mentor Pangloss, and the novel dances into vigorous life whenever he takes hold
of it. Still, Lev offers readers ample reason to get lost in this immensely
likable novel's many pleasures. One of the best from the versatile Tremain, who
keeps on challenging herself, and rewarding readers."
"Rose Tremain so fully inhabits her
characters, she's a virtual stowaway in their lives...Tremain's 10th novel is a
moving, utterly absorbing portrait of deracination, hope, loss, longing and
fortitude...Her writing is so good, she makes us hear English anew, from the
viewpoint of someone not fully fluent."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"If life truly is all about the journey, then we're fortunate to have Rose
Tremain as our guide...The Road Home is the work of a generous author, a guide who
reveals the strangeness in the place we once imagined was
"...[Tremain} proves herself again magically capable of animating a character from the inside out, illuminating the heart of one modern exile with an extraordinary degree of love, imagination and insight. The pleasure, the wit and the joy in humanity that Tremain brings to every page do what literature, at its best, should do: connect us, as E.M. Forster famously exhorted. Particularly, connect us to the invisible, the lonely, the barely seen."
-Los Angeles Times
"A gem of a novel, driven by a memorable character whose caring and ambition move him from a difficult personal situation and damaging historical past toward a positive new life."
"Why do I love Rose Tremain? It's not just the clarity of her prose, the liveliness of her plots, the precision of her settings, or the depth of her characters. I love Tremain because she is so compassionate. Her novels exemplify this moral quality, even as they excel at all the others."
-The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Timely and moving."
"Tremain transforms this episodic road story into a gem of a novel, driven by a memorable character whose caring and ambition move him from a difficult personal situation and damaging historical past toward a positive new life."
"An immigrant's tale and an outsider's journey of self-discovery. The concept is nothing new, but Tremain's prose saves Lev from cliché and produces an unexpected, poignant story... this British novel can remind any American reader of the loneliness and hope of the immigrant experience."
"It's not difficult to see why author Rose Tremain won the Orange Prize--a prestigious British fiction award--for her latest novel, The Road Home. From page one, Tremain plunges readers deep into the journey of Lev, an immigrant from an unnamed Eastern European country...An unexpected, poignant story."
-Chicago Sun Times
"Tremain's protagonists are often faced with trials that have a fabled quality...and her latest novel is no exception...At once timeless and bitingly contemporary, this novel explores the life now lived by millions--when one's hope lies in one country and one's heart in another."
"A classic work by the gifted Tremain....She has the art of finding the improbable graces in human connection."
-The Guardian (UK)
"A potent tale of a grieving widower from an unnamed eastern European country....Tremain paints vivid and multihued characters."
-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"THE ROAD HOME is imaginative, funny, touching, and impossible to put down."
"The pleasure, the wit and the joy in humanity that Tremain brings to every page do what literature, at its best, should do: connect us, as E.M. Forester famously exhorted."
-Los Angeles Times
"Tremain elevates the subject beyond its outlines by making Lev not a statistic or caricature or the standard-bearer of a trend but simply a man-fully embodied...A less disciplined and agile author might have been tempted to ease Lev's transition from daydreamer to doer....But Rose Tremain is in the business of inventing not so much fantasies as alternate realities."
-New York Times Book Review