With an introduction by Neel Mukherjee.
In Manhattan, just after the century's turn, three thirty-year-old friends, Danielle, Marina and Julius, are seeking their fortunes. But the arrival of Marina's young cousin Bootie - fresh from the provinces and keen, too, to make his mark - forces them to confront their own desires and expectations.
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud is an American classic: a sweeping portrait of one of the most fascinating cities in the world, and a haunting illustration of how the events of a single day can change everything, for ever.
In its scope, style and substance, The Emperor's Children is an attempt to return the novel to its golden age; it is engaged in a conversation with George Eliot, Henry James, Dostoevsky. Its psychological realism is perfect, its characters . . . thrillingly real, alive and utterly convincing in their subtleties of thought and the ticking of their minds.
Messud's prose is a timely and intensely pleasurable reminder of the possibilities of the English language. To use the word clarity about her style - dense, chaste, luminously intelligent - is to return the word to its origins; this is style as illumination, shining a searching yet sympathetic light on the minds and inner worlds of her characters, and as a radiant mode of moral inquiry.
From the moment the book opens, one senses a writer of confidence and maturity, expansive, sure of her ground and savouring her own sonorous prose . . . Messud has proved in her previous novels that she is an intelligent and ambitious writer whose fiction is concerned with matters well beyond the personal and domestic . . . There is much to enjoy here, not least Messud's delicate yet devastating use of irony, her nuanced portrayal of character and motive and her vivid descriptions.