The Pilgrim Hawk cover
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Publication date:
August 16, 2011
NYRB Classics
Available as E-Book

This powerful short novel describes the events of a single afternoon. Alwyn Tower, an American expatriate and sometime novelist, is staying with a friend outside of Paris, when a well-heeled, itinerant Irish couple drops in—with Lucy, their trained hawk, a restless, sullen, disturbingly totemic presence. Lunch is prepared, drink flows. A masquerade, at once harrowing and farcical, begins.

A work of classical elegance and concision, The Pilgrim Hawk stands with Faulkner’s The Bear as one of the finest American short novels: a beautifully crafted story that is also a poignant evocation of the implacable power of love.


Among the treasures of 20th-century American literature
—Susan Sontag

Truly a work of art, of the kind so rarely achieved or attempted nowadays.
—Christopher Isherwood

[In The Pilgrim Hawk] the reader is constantly being repositioned, constantly being forced to see something he didn’t quite see before. Mr. Wescott’s world is self-contained but precarious, and, like the real one, endlessly full of meaning.
—Howard Moss, The New Yorker

The author has created a strange, tense atmosphere, while telling the story with delicacy and charm.
Library Journal

Glenway Wescott was part of a Midwestern movement in American literature during the first decades of this century-the era of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, Willa Cather’s My Antonia, Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, and O.E. Rolvaag’s Giants in the Earth… . [Wescott] remains an appealing and distinctive minor master.
The Washington Post Book World