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The Lonely Polygamist

A Novel

Brady Udall (Author)

Overview | Formats

A New York Times bestseller: from a luminous storyteller, a highly anticipated new novel about the American family writ large. “Udall masterfully portrays the hapless foibles and tragic yearnings of our fellow humans.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Golden Richards, husband to four wives, father to twenty-eight children, is having the mother of all midlife crises. His construction business is failing, his family has grown into an overpopulated mini-dukedom beset with insurrection and rivalry, and he is done in with grief: due to the accidental death of a daughter and the stillbirth of a son, he has come to doubt the capacity of his own heart. Brady Udall, one of our finest American fiction writers, tells a tragicomic story of a deeply faithful man who, crippled by grief and the demands of work and family, becomes entangled in an affair that threatens to destroy his family’s future. Like John Irving and Richard Yates, Udall creates characters that engage us to the fullest as they grapple with the nature of need, love, and belonging.

Beautifully written, keenly observed, and ultimately redemptive, The Lonely Polygamist is an unforgettable story of an American family—with its inevitable dysfunctionality, heartbreak, and comedy—pushed to its outer limits.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • May 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-393-33971-0
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 624 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverThe Lonely Polygamist: A Novel


Endorsements & Reviews

“Funny [and] moving, [The Lonely Polygamist] is ambitious and it is tender about man’s endless absurdities and failings.” — Eric Weinberger, The New York Times Book Review

“The novel you must read this summer.... a riveting emotional tornado of a novel.” — Entertainment Weekly

“Starred Review: A superb performance . . . Udall’s polished storytelling and sterling cast of perfectly realized and flawed characters make this a serious contender for Great American Novel status.” — Publishers Weekly

“Starred Review: Lovers of good writing will find this a pleasure, period.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Starred Review: Udall observes with a keen eye for the ridiculous while showing compassion. Enthusiastically recommended.” — Library Journal

“The novelist’s affection for his protagonist and sensitivity to his domestic despair yields characters and scenes that are precise and unfailingly rewarding. [Udall] has that gift for writing sinuous and convincing sentences that convey his affection without compromising clarity or truth.” — Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR

“A wry, sympathetic portrait of a spectacularly dysfunctional family.” — The New Yorker

“A thick, transporting, critically hailed novel from which you emerge, blinking but sated, into the real world.” — Miami Herald

“There's something cinematic about the way Udall presents this tale, with at least a handful of dramatic scenes that seem to beg for a big-screen treatment. Furthermore, Udall's poetic rendering of the Southwestern landscape brings to mind the lingering, panoramic shots of films like Brokeback Mountain and A River Runs Through It. But most of all it's Golden, Rusty and the novel's other complex characters that make The Lonely Polygamist a potential classic. They remain with the reader after the last page is turned.” — San Francisco Chronicle

The Lonely Polygamist is both an astounding feat and a sumptuous feast. This is the Second Coming of the Great American Novel. Or is it the Third? Who’s counting? Read this brilliant book.” — Rabih Alameddine, author of The Hakawati

“An audacious and frequently funny new novel.” — Wendy Smith, Washington Post

“A profoundly satisfying read, written with a ferocious verve and authenticity.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Uproarious . . . Udall’s storytelling [displays] ease and humor.” — Philadelphia Inquirer

“An absorbing, moving entertaining novel that will transport the reader into Golden’s chaotic world.” — Dallas Morning News

“I don’t know how true to life this story may be. But it feels right, and it reads beautifully and often hilariously, and I liked it an awful lot.” — Portland Oregonian

“A brilliantly crafted mini-epic that is at turns hilarious, terrifying, and heartbreaking . . . Cinematic . . . A potential classic.” — Associated Press

“Entertaining . . . very moving . . . Impressive.” — Chicago Tribune

“If you're looking for a big, funny, moving novel to read this spring, look no farther.” — New West

“A rich, poignant look at a family whose lifestyle may seem absolutely aberrant, but for whom life’s issues are wholeheartedly normal.” — Boise Weekly

“One of the best novels I’ve read in a while . . . Golden Richards, middle-aged, 6-foot-6 polygamist with an overbite, is one of the most appealing, original, and brilliantly tragicomic protagonists to appear in American fiction in some time.” — Newsday

“Terrifically thought-provoking . . . a constantly shifting but marvelously controlled story.” — Bookreporter.com

“[A] compelling, rollicking story.” — Salt Lake Tribune

The Lonely Polygamist is a great American novel, perhaps the great American novel of the year.” — BookPage

“How often does The Great American Novel truly come along?” — Sexy Prime

“What is so great about this unflinching, superbly crafted, big hearted novel is the way it makes us recognize the polygamist(and sister wife) in all of us. Golden Richards' struggles and desires are no different from ours, he just has them in multiples of four. His story not only demystifies and humanizes polygamist culture, it takes a dramatic stand on behalf of families everywhere—from the most conservative to the most alternative—and suggests a way to foreground, amidst all our failings, the rare moment of success.” — Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness

The Lonely Polygamist is a hefty, eager, and bittersweet novel, and it is a page-turner. Brady Udall deals with familial chaos, reckless behavior, and alarming pyrotechnics with wit, grace, and tenderness. He’s an enchanter who casts his spell with exquisite sentences and unerring, evocative details. Here is a writer of inordinate compassion and formidable intelligence. Read this remarkable novel, friend, live with it, and I promise you this, little Rusty Richards will haunt your dreams.” — John Dufresne, author of Love Warps the Mind a Little

The Lonely Polygamist cracks open the door to plural marriage and lets in the light. Brady Udall explores the Richards family with the greatest care and humor, building memorable characters that readers will immediately love. Funny and wise, The Lonely Polygamist stands with other great family novels such as The Corrections and Middlesex, and sets Udall on the top shelf of America’s writers.” — Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief and Animal Crackers

“This is big-hearted American storytelling, the best new book I’ve read in years.” — Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of American Salvage

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