But throughout that gilded childhood, Eberstadt longed for another existence, for the footloose life of the willfully dispossessed. In her novels, idealists and fast-trackers wrestled with thorny problems of love and social identity. After her family’s move to the French countryside, her lifelong fascination with Gypsies inspired a nonfiction book about their haunted music and lives. “Flamenco,” she wrote, “is the art of desperate measures, the winning of a fugitive grace from failure, bankruptcy, shame.” That fugitive grace, that rag-picking of hope from ruin, resurfaces in Eberstadt’s shrewd and sensuous fifth novel, “Rat.”
“Passionate, at once exhilarating and despairing, a rich and profound work of high non-fiction literature. A portrait of the Gypsies of southwestern France, it is also about family, about consumerism, and about the ruthlessness of a world in which there is no more open road.” – Luc Sante.
A Writer's International Wanderings. From the Manhattan of Andy Warhol to gypsy camps in France, novelist Fernanda Eberstadt has made her life exploring unusual settings. She speaks to Susan Salter Reynolds about her own journey and her stunning new novel, Rat.
There are many pleasures here, one of which derives from Ms. Eberstadt's affectionate observation of New York. An avant-garde opera attracts "a honking, hissing gaggle of young men in spatter-painted dinner jackets and military buzz cuts.
An ambitious, intelligent portrait of the emergence of a gifted painter, and a sly, convincing depiction of the exotic fringes of the New York art scene. Isaac Hooker (introduced in Eberstadt's Isaac and His Devils, 1991) is, as the novel begins, a hapless if brilliant young man adrift in Manhattan, having fled New Hampshire (and his loyal girlfriend) to make something of himself.
Eberstadt's new novel flows like a sun-spangled brook on a bright spring day. It continues the saga of New Hampshireman Isaac Hooker that began in Isaac and His Devils (1991), but no prior knowledge of Isaac is required for total immersion in this astute, animated, and funny tale about the sublime and the ridiculous in love and art.