VSL// A seductive new novel one of the smartest American writers

In Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad , we meet Sasha, a woman in her mid-30s struggling with kleptomania, and Bennie, the rocker–turned–record executive she works for. How the private lives of these two characters—and plenty of others—intertwine makes for good, compelling reading, in this un-put-down-able novel.

The novel shifts forward and backward in time—through Sasha’s troubled childhood and adolescence; Bennie as a young man in love with music and immersed in San Francisco’s punk scene; or through the myriad supporting characters, who take the reader through Italy, New York and Africa. Some of these adventures will resonate more than others (read one of our favorites, “The Safari,” below via The New Yorker), but each one is elegantly executed, with Egan’s crisp, sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking observations about the foibles of human life.

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