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  • Published: 26 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241972960
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

A Calling for Charlie Barnes

From the Booker-shortlisted author comes a poignant novel about fathers, sons and the embers of the American dream

Charlie Barnes is a mid-century man devoted to his newspaper and his landline. But Charlie is about to get dragged into our troubled age by his storyteller son, who has a different idea of him than he has of himself. Then there are his other children, his ex-wives, present wife, business clients, friends and acquaintances, all of whom have their competing opinions of Charlie.

He certainly seems simple enough: he's a striver, a romantic, and a thoroughgoing capitalist. But suddenly blindsided by the Great Recession and a dose of bad news, he might have to rethink his life from top to bottom, and on short notice. What makes a man real? What makes him good? And how does the story we tell about ourselves line up with the lives that we actually live?

  • Published: 26 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241972960
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the author

Joshua Ferris

Joshua Ferris was born in Illinois in 1974. He attended the University of Iowa and the University of California, Irvine. He now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Also by Joshua Ferris

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Praise for A Calling for Charlie Barnes

Dismayingly funny in the way that only really serious books can be

Guardian, on 'To Rise Again at a Decent Hour'

Brilliant, funny, stomach-turningly accurate

Observer, on 'Then We Came to the End'

Very funny, intense and exhilarating

The Times, on 'Then We Came to the End'

Funny, moving, and formally a work of genius, A Calling for Charlie Barnes is quite literally the book Joshua Ferris was born to write.

Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire

Joshua Ferris has proved his astonishing ability to spin gold from ordinary air . . . As brave and adept as any writer out there

New York Times Book Review on To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Not too many authors have written the Great American Office Novel... Then We Came to the End feels like a readymade classic of the genre. . . . A truly affecting novel about work, trust, love, and loneliness

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times on Then We Came to the End

A Calling for Charlie Barnes is wonderful: fast and deep, urgent and brilliant . . . A hilarious, intimate, and scathing takedown of so many American vanities

Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia

Dazzling. Mind-blowing. About as much fun as you can have without risking arrest

Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls

A deeply funny, very moving book . . . Ferris's hijinks are serious; his play is profound. There is magic in these pages

Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies

Brilliant, funny, heartbreaking . . . Family, memory, ambition and death, all told with dervishing glee. Not just a daredevil of a novel, but something truly new

Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less

Ferris's work cuts to the heart of who we are by focusing very painfully on who one man was . . . Consider this book not just a work of grief or love or memoir, then, but a work of hope, too.

Publishers Weekly

This is the story of one disappointed idealist told by another, of one unreliable narrator described by another, and it is animated by filial love . . . funny, moving - and surprising


This novel is funny - Ferris has lovely comic timing and a great way with the sheer silliness of a family's mental and physical bric-a-brac - and very moving


Simultaneously narratively courageous and utterly hilarious . . . where it leaves the reader feels special and unique

Sunday Times

Ferris is on his finest deadpan form here, skewering contemporary America and the shallow values it embodied in the heat of the 2008 financial crash


In Ferris's admirably risk-taking hands, this novel becomes so much more than simply another story of failed American dreams. Ferris has made himself into the leading writer of the American workplace . . . He understands both its absurdities (and this is another very funny book) and its rewards, but most of all he understands how it shapes modern America


Ferris could write enthralling realist fiction in his sleep but it's the ideas and formal ingenuity that really set this novel apart . . . [he considers] the role of storytelling in families, the myths we create and the possibility that there is no such thing as telling it straight


Dazzling . . . A more tender novel than Ferris's others, but that doesn't keep it from being murderously funny from start to finish . . . [he has found] precisely the right way to meld memoir with satire, to do this with bracing originality and to keep heads spinning from this novel's first page to its last. Gamesmanship and love don't mix easily. But Ferris has found a way to do it, and he's risen to the top of his game

New York Times

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