We use the word “great” so often that we’ve degraded its meaning. Great haircut! Great idea! Great casserole!
So what can a book publisher say, without committing sins of hyperbole, about an author who truly does possess greatness?
In One Person is John Irving’s thirteenth novel. Having closely read all of the others, I can say with some confidence that it is as relevant to our time and as satisfying a story as The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, and A Prayer for Owen Meany were when they were published.
Like those works, In One Person addresses the search for identity and connection in a world that is not always tolerant of unconventional people. John Irving has long been a champion for sexual freedom. In this novel, his portrait of the life and loves of a bisexual man, and the mutability of gender and desire, will be a revelation for some and an affirmation for others.
You will notice that this novel is dedicated to Tony Richardson, the film director who brought The Hotel New Hampshire to the screen. In his memoir, Richardson wrote this about John Irving’s fiction: “He seems to me to be one of the most original and towering of contemporary writers. He is a born storyteller in the tradition of Fielding and Dickens, with, like them, an ability to see his characters physically from the outside…as well as depicting their feelings and passions from within….I predict that John’s courage and the range of his universe will still be durable when many of his more intellectually acclaimed rivals will have dwindled away.”
I hope you will experience In One Person as deeply as I have. If you’ve never read John Irving before, this novel is an entertaining and enriching way to begin. If you’ve read him before, welcome back. You will once again marvel at the craft and imagination and probity of a great American writer.
Executive Vice President and Publisher
Simon & Schuster