Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Jennifer Egan  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: 1962 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Egan was born in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco. In addition to her books, she is a prolific author of short stories and non-fiction articles. Egan currently resides in New York.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Look at Me: A Novel
ISBN: 0385721358

Anchor. 2002

At the start of this edgy and ambitiously multilayered novel, a fashion model named Charlotte Swenson emerges from a car accident in her Illinois hometown with her face so badly shattered that it takes eighty titanium screws to reassemble it. She returns to New York still beautiful but oddly unrecognizable, a virtual stranger in the world she once effortlessly occupied.

With the surreal authority of a David Lynch, Jennifer Egan threads Charlotte’s narrative with those of other casualties of our infatuation with the image. There’s a deceptively plain teenaged girl embarking on a dangerous secret life, an alcoholic private eye, and an enigmatic stranger who changes names and accents as he prepares an apocalyptic blow against American society. As these narratives inexorably converge, Look at Me becomes a coolly mesmerizing intellectual thriller of identity and imposture.

Emerald City
ISBN: 0307387534

Anchor. 2007

These eleven masterful stories – the first collection from acclaimed author Jennifer Egan – deal with loneliness and longing, regret and desire. Egan’s characters – models and housewives, bankers and schoolgirls – are united by their search for something outside their own realm of experience. They set out from locations as exotic as China and Bora Bora, as cosmopolitan as downtown Manhattan, or as familiar as suburban Illinois to seek their own transformations. Elegant and poignant, the stories in Emerald City are seamless evocations of self-discovery.

The Invisible Circus
ISBN: 0307387526

Anchor. 2007

In Jennifer Egan’s highly acclaimed first novel, set in 1978, the political drama and familial tensions of the 1960s form a backdrop for the world of Phoebe O’Connor, age eighteen. Phoebe is obsessed with the memory and death of her sister Faith, a beautiful idealistic hippie who died in Italy in 1970. In order to find out the truth about Faith’s life and death, Phoebe retraces her steps from San Francisco across Europe, a quest which yields both complex and disturbing revelations about family, love, and Faith’s lost generation. This spellbinding novel introduced Egan’s remarkable ability to tie suspense with deeply insightful characters and the nuances of emotion.

A Visit from the Goon Squad
ISBN: 0307592839

Knopf. 2010

Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city’s demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life—divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house—and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang—who thrived and who faltered—and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.

A Visit from the Goon Squad
is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to

the basic human hunger for redemption

and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.

Manhattan Beach: A Novel
ISBN: 1476716730

Scribner. 2017

* Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
* Winner of the New York City Book Award
* New York Times Bestseller
* A San Francisco Chronicle Top 10 Book of the Year
* A New York Times Notable Book and a Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of 2017
* A Time magazine and USA Today Top 10 Novel of 2017
* Winner of the Booklist Top of the List for Fiction
* Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction
* Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, The Guardian, Vogue, Esquire, Kirkus Reviews, Philadelphia Inquirer, BookPage, Bustle, Southern Living, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Immensely satisfying…an old-fashioned page-turner, tweaked by this witty and sophisticated writer…Egan is masterly at displaying mastery…she works a formidable kind of magic.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad.

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.


Awards

-- Look At Me

Finalist, National Book Award Manhattan Beach

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, 2017

Starred Review, Kirkus, 2017

Starred Review, Booklist, 2017

Starred Review, Library Journal, 2017

Best Book of October, Amazon, 2017

Long List, National Book Award for Fiction, 2017