A family epic of a generation coming of age in a time of cultural upheaval
“Who knows if there’s a God? There’s us, now, and caterpillars and other insects and mulch. So thinks Stephen Wirth as he watches his marriage collapse. Between bouts of alcoholism and attempts to restore a fleet of decrepit boats, Stephen does his best to help his daughters cope with their mother having fallen in love with another woman. But growing up and making sense of the world is something the girls must do on their own, just as for their mother there is no easy way around building a new life. Set on Long Island, The Agnostics follows the Wirths through several decades as they struggle to redefine themselves and their idea of family.
Painting with a fine and delicate brush, Wendy Rawlings reveals her characters’ lives as a series of discrete moments, illuminating the intimate story of one American middle-class family.
“Already an accomplished stylist, Rawlings has given us a first novel that is at once delicate and intense. The characters are so finely engraved and their passions so recognizable, the river of their daily lives runs so broad and deep, in the end we feel not that we have merely read about them but that we have lived with them, side by side. A poignant, exquisitely focused book.”
—Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind
Wendy Rawlings is the author of the story collection Come Back Irish. She teaches in and currently directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Alabama.
"Rawlings writes with vivid sensuousness and a palpable sense of purpose in throwing curveballs at her familiar characters. The result is a probing investigation into the unbearable lovelessness of modern life, and an attendant search for certainty."