Cruel and Benevolent

Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit from the Goon Squad is a moving humanistic saga, an enormous nineteenth-century-style epic brilliantly disguised as ironic postmodern pastiche. Like her earlier work, it is dark and often cruel. But there is a new buoyancy to this novel as well—a buoyancy of tone, of technique. With great openness of spirit, fluency, and a comic vision that balances her sharp eye for the tragic, Egan has employed every playful device of the postmodern novel with such warmth and sensitivity that the genre is transcended completely.

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