The Librarianist

Ecco. Jul. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780063085121. $30. F
In deWitt’s fifth novel (after French Exit), Bob Comet, a retired librarian in Portland, OR, is an unassuming man with quiet pastimes; a man with few friends and no family. But his routine life changes completely when he chances to walk into a convenience store and meets an older woman who seems lost and confused. According to the laminated card hanging around her neck, Chip lives at the Gambell-Reed Senior Center, and Bob becomes fascinated by the residents there, eventually signing up to volunteer. Finally he has landed in a place where he feels he belongs, a place he’s been searching for ever since he was betrayed decades ago by the only two people he loved, his wife Connie and friend Ethan. But when Chip’s son Sam arrives to take her to a more secure facility, Bob is in for a shock, and uncovering Chip’s real identity leads to a difficult conversation with Sam but ultimately reconciliation with his past.
VERDICT The Booker Prize–shortlisted deWitt creates an endearing character in Bob Comet, who, at the age of 72, and after a lifetime of low expectations, finds life’s answers and the friends he deeply needs. This novel begs to be read.
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