Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Other Men's Daughters
by Richard Stern, introduction by Philip Roth, afterword by Wendy Doniger
“Until the day of Merriwether’s departure from the house—a month after his divorce—the Merriwether family looked like an ideally tranquil one” we read on the first page of Other Men’s Daughters. It is the late 1960s, and the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are full of long-haired hippies decked out in colorful garb, but Dr. Robert Merriwether, who teaches at Harvard and has been married for a good long time, hardly takes note. Learned, curious, thoughtful, and a creature of habit, Merriwether is anything but an impulsive man, and yet over the summer, while Sarah, his wife, is away on vacation, he meets a summer student, Cynthia Ryder, and before long the two have fallen into bed and in love. Richard Stern’s novel is an elegant and unnerving examination of just how cold and destructive a thing love, “the origin of so much story and disorder,” can be.richard stern
As if Chekhov had written Lolita...I would contend that in its own felicitous small-scale way, Other Men’s Daughters is to...the sixties what The Great Gatsby was to the twenties, The Grapes of Wrath to the thirties, and Rabbit Is Rich to the seventies: a microscope exactly focused on a definitive specimen of what was once the present American moment.
—Philip Roth, from the Introduction
A novel so good it would have been one of the most valid contenders for the Great American Novel of the decade. It may have achieved in a sane, civilized, academic and romantic way what its showier contemporaries miss by a mile.
—Ann Rosenberg, The Philadelphia Inquirer
It is a pleasure to find a novel written with such intelligence and feeling, a novel that judges none of its people but holds them up to calm and affectionate scrutiny. Other Men’s Daughters...is ‘relevant’—but its real subject is in the disruptions and exaltation of the human heart.
—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
Richard Stern’s style is the mark of an exceptional and delicate attention. Other Men’s Daughters is...an impressive plea for the private life as a continuing subject for serious fiction...there is urgency and power in Stern’s treatment of his profound theme: the necessary end of particular seasons in our lives, the pain and confusion and exhilaration of leaving safe old places when they have become truly uninhabitable.
—Michael Wood, The New York Review of Books
This is the best novel about divorce and the anguish of a lost family that I have ever read.
—Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of History of Religions, University of Chicago
A flower-fresh, moon-bright novel...the author being one of those who can convey all of Eros in a snip of dialogue, a few sentences.
No novelist could improve upon Richard Stern’s inventory of what Merriwether has to lose...an attractive book and occasionally and extraordinarily touching one.
I think Other Men’s Daughters is an important book, one of the few that will be read later. It is brilliantly written, a true novel of manners, sharply observant of surfaces, and, finally, profound.
The novel’s world rings true...we respond to the honesty of Stern’s vision.
—Chicago Daily News
For years I have admired the elegant fiction of Richard Stern for its impeccable language, its gracious erudition, and, above all, it’s brilliant wit. In Other Men’s Daughters, to me his most moving novel, these qualities serve the cause of mercy.