THE CONFERENCE OF BIRDS, by JEFFREY LEWIS
It is the late ‘70s in Manhattan and God is dead. A group of people come together to explore the void left behind. New York mongrels of the spiritual, as brash and defiant as their chaotic, bankrupt city, embark on what seems like a journey described in the 12th century Persian poem that gives this powerful novel its title. Among them are the shy and sweet-natured Bobby, a gifted cartoonist and the group’s mascot; Maisie, the acid-tongued rich girl who is fighting a two-front war against mental instability and Hodgkin’s disease; the narrator Louie, a very nearly accidental pilgrim torn between his friends and the purpose that has engulfed him; and their austere leader Joe, a saint to some, a pervert to others. Is it self-discovery they seek, or oblivion? As thoroughly as any in recent fiction, the characters of The Conference of the Birds take the measure of a de-stabilized age, and wring from it not only tragedy, but dignity.
Jeffrey Lewis has won a string of awards for his novels including the Independent Publishers Gold Medal for Literary Fiction. He has also received two Emmy Awards and the Writer’s Guild Award for his work as a television writer and producer.
Publication Date: Jan. 2011
– The Times Literary Supplement