It’s been twelve years since Jennifer Egan published A Visit from the Goon Squad, a polyphonic and unceasingly inventive sprawl of a text, which remains both her best-known creation and her most celebrated, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2011. It’s as much a short story collection as it is a novel, the author happy to break literary rules without compunction and always keen to nudge the reader into doing as much work as possible: to make connections between disparate episodes, to build up a larger narrative for themselves. The book caused a splash, in both critical and commercial terms, striking for a project of such unabashed complexity. Small surprise, though, that the multi-million dollar television series which was promised in the wake of its success has yet to appear; it’s tough to imagine how so convoluted a nest of stories could ever translate effectively and recognisably into even the most elaborate Netflix maxi-series.
Now Egan has published a follow-up, which she calls not a sequel but a ‘sibling’ to the original. It’s no straight successor but rather a collection of stories and glimpses, the connection of which to the first book is sometimes extremely