Alice McDermott — Absolution - with Jacki Lyden — at Conn Ave

Upcoming Event
Monday, November 6, 2023 - 7:00pm

You have no idea what it was like. For us. The women, I mean. The wives.

American women--American wives--have been mostly minor characters in the literature of the Vietnam War, but in Absolution they take center stage. Tricia is a shy newlywed, married to a rising attorney on loan to navy intelligence. Charlene is a practiced corporate spouse and mother of three, a beauty and a bully. In Saigon in 1963, the two women form a wary alliance as they balance the era's mandate to be "helpmeets" to their ambitious husbands with their own, inchoate impulse to "do good" for the people of Vietnam.

Sixty years later, Charlene's daughter, spurred by an encounter with an aging Vietnam vet, reaches out to Tricia. Together, they look back at their time in Saigon, taking wry account of that pivotal year and of Charlene's altruistic machinations, and discovering as they do how their own lives as women on the periphery--of politics, of history, of war, of their husbands' convictions--have been shaped and burdened by the same sort of unintended consequences that followed America's tragic interference in Southeast Asia.

A virtuosic new novel from Alice McDermott, one of our most observant, most affecting writers--about folly and grace, obligation, sacrifice, and, finally, the quest for absolution in a broken world.

Alice McDermott is the author of several novels, including The Ninth HourSomeoneAfter ThisChild of My HeartCharming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award; and At Weddings and Wakes—all published by FSG. That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere. For more than two decades she was the Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the faculty at the Sewanee Writers Conference. McDermott lives with her family outside Washington, D.C.

McDermott will be in conversation with memoirist Jacki Lyden, an award-winning NPR host correspondent for over three decades, hosting flagship NPR shows and thousands of interviews in multiple countries, especially the Middle East. She is the author of “Daughter of the Queen of Sheba,” a memoir the New York Times called “a classic.” She is the American Psychiatric Assn. “Patient Advocate of the Year” for 2021 and a Rosalyn Carter Mental Health Journalism fellow. She is a member of the National Steering Committee for Writers for Democratic Action and its Wisconsin State chair. She is also a board member of the Cheuse International Writing center at George Mason University. Since 2017, she’s led writing workshops in the US and Ireland, including with Nick Flynn and Alice McDermott. She is at work on her next memoir, “Tell Me Something Good.”

This event is free with first come, first served seating.

5015 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fiction & Poetry
Absolution: A Novel By Alice McDermott Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374610487
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 31st, 2023