FICTION

Turbulence

Scribner. Jul. 2019. 160p. ISBN 9781982122737. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781982122751. F
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In Szalay’s fifth book, which follows the Man Booker Prize short-listed All That Man Is, the author uses air travel as a metaphor for disconnection and missed opportunities. The title also suggests the state of mind of the many of the characters. Beginning and ending in London, each chapter or vignette features airport codes to indicate a character’s travels—LGW-MAD, YYZ-SEA, etc.—an ingenious way to move the narrative forward while serving as a reminder of the protagonists’ constant state of flux. Each story is a snapshot, a moment in the their lives, with most of the conflicts presented left unresolved; how the situation is reconciled is left to the reader. Among the characters are a closeted gay man; a twentysomething woman visiting her ill, estranged father; and two brothers on a golf vacation dealing with not-so-hidden resentments. And while there is much unfinished business, it’s the relationships themselves, strained and sometimes fleeting, that are at the heart of this work.
VERDICT The novel’s global range is impressive and the interconnected stories and overall tone will appeal to readers who enjoyed Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.]

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