Harold Brodkey’s acclaimed novel is a mesmerizing work of literary genius, exploring the momentous events in the life of a family in twentieth-century St. Louis, and a writer still haunted by a childhood tragedy
First published in 1991, The Runaway Soul took Harold Brodkey more than three decades to complete. This sprawling novel has since been eagerly embraced by readers and critics alike, earning Brodkey the epithet of an “American Proust.” Told by Wiley Silenowicz, Brodkey’s fictional alter ego, the story snakes back and forth across the unforgettable events of a life. Following the traumatic death of his mother, Wiley recalls his troubling childhood in the care of his cousins: smooth-talking S. L. Silenowicz, his beautiful, emotionally deficient wife, Lila, and their abusive daughter, Nonie, who torments Wiley to no end. In language that soars and hypnotizes, The Runaway Soul fearlessly explores youth and adulthood, love and loss, sex and death, marriage and family, tracing upon one man’s odyssey through a troubling world. More than two decades after it first appeared in print, Harold Brodkey’s magnum opus remains one of the finest literary works produced by an American novelist in the twentieth century.