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The Sixteenth of June

Cover of The Sixteenth of June

The Sixteenth of June

A Novel
by Maya Lang
A finely observed debut novel that paints a funny, moving, truthful portrayal of a family at a turning point: "A triumph" (Helen Schulman, New York Times bestselling author of This Beautiful Life).
Leopold Portman dreams of settling down in Philadelphia's bucolic suburbs and starting a family with his fiancée, Nora. A talented singer in mourning for her mother, Nora has abandoned a promising opera career and wonders what her destiny holds. Her best friend, Stephen, Leopold's brother, dithers in his seventh year of graduate school and privately questions Leo and Nora's relationship. On June 16, 2004, the three are brought together—first for a funeral, then for the Portmans' annual Bloomsday party. As the long-simmering tensions between them rise, they must confront their pasts and their hopes for the future.

Clever, lyrical, and poignant, The Sixteenth of June delves into the frictions and allegiances of friendships, the murky uncertainty of early adulthood, and the yearning to belong. Offering a nod to James Joyce's Ulysses, this remarkable novel explores the secrets we keep and the lengths we go to for acceptance and love. It is "a perfect book for fans of Jonathan Tropper, Meg Wolitzer, and, yes, James Joyce" (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
A finely observed debut novel that paints a funny, moving, truthful portrayal of a family at a turning point: "A triumph" (Helen Schulman, New York Times bestselling author of This Beautiful Life).
Leopold Portman dreams of settling down in Philadelphia's bucolic suburbs and starting a family with his fiancée, Nora. A talented singer in mourning for her mother, Nora has abandoned a promising opera career and wonders what her destiny holds. Her best friend, Stephen, Leopold's brother, dithers in his seventh year of graduate school and privately questions Leo and Nora's relationship. On June 16, 2004, the three are brought together—first for a funeral, then for the Portmans' annual Bloomsday party. As the long-simmering tensions between them rise, they must confront their pasts and their hopes for the future.

Clever, lyrical, and poignant, The Sixteenth of June delves into the frictions and allegiances of friendships, the murky uncertainty of early adulthood, and the yearning to belong. Offering a nod to James Joyce's Ulysses, this remarkable novel explores the secrets we keep and the lengths we go to for acceptance and love. It is "a perfect book for fans of Jonathan Tropper, Meg Wolitzer, and, yes, James Joyce" (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
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About the Author-
  • Maya Lang is the first-generation daughter of Indian immigrants. She was awarded the 2012 Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholarship in Fiction and was a Finalist for Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and lives in New York with her husband and daughter.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 28, 2014
    June 16 is, of course, Bloomsday—the day on which Joyce’s Ulysses takes place. Brothers Stephen and Leopold were named for the book’s two protagonists by their parents, the Portmans, a well-to-do Philadelphia couple who are lifelong Joyce fans. Naturally, the Portmans celebrate Bloomsday every year, and the sudden death of the husband’s mother on June 16, 2004, won’t be allowed to spoil the festivities. As adults, the brothers are polar opposites: Leo is hearty and unintellectual, while Stephen is a cerebral grad student unable, or unwilling, to complete his dissertation. Stephen is best friends with Leo’s fiancée, Nora, a lapsed opera singer grieving for her mother. Over the course of the day, each character confronts issues in his or her life. Leo wishes Nora would cheer up and marry him, Nora is worried about their relationship, and Stephen resents his family for not mourning his grandmother’s death deeply enough. And then, at the end, things somehow work out. Is it the magic of Joyce? Hard to say, but while Lang’s love for the author is evident, it’s not clear why the patron saint of difficult literature has been so elaborately invoked for this straightforward, mild-mannered tale of love and family. Agent: Miriam Altshuler, Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency.

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