A Calling for Charlie Barnes

A Calling for Charlie Barnes


From the Booker-shortlisted author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour comes a hilarious novel about fathers, sons, thwarted dreams and confronting the reality of who we really are

'This is a fine American novel about family, love, and a decent but flawed man trying to be better. In dark times like these, I can't recommend this book too highly. It's strong' Stephen King on Twitter

Charlie Barnes is a mid-century man devoted to his newspaper and his landline. But Charlie is about to get dragged into our troubled age by his storyteller son, who has a different idea of him than he has of himself. Then there are his other children, his ex-wives, present wife, business clients, friends and acquaintances, all of whom have their competing opinions of Charlie.

He certainly seems simple enough: he's a striver, a romantic, and a thoroughgoing capitalist. But suddenly blindsided by the Great Recession and a dose of bad news, he might have to rethink his life from top to bottom, and on short notice. What makes a man real? What makes him good? And how does the story we tell about ourselves line up with the lives that we actually live?

'Funny, moving, and formally a work of genius, A Calling for Charlie Barnes is quite literally the book Joshua Ferris was born to write' Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire

'Dazzling. Mind-blowing. About as much fun as you can have without risking arrest' Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls

'Wonderful: fast and deep, urgent and brilliant . . . A hilarious, intimate, and scathing takedown of so many American vanities' Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia


  • A hilarious skewering of the American Dream by the man who must be the funniest writer we have

    Sathnam Sanghera, Guardian, Best Books of 2021

About the author

Joshua Ferris

Joshua Ferris was born in Illinois in 1974. He is the author of four novels and one collection of short stories. His debut, Then We Came to the End, won the PEN/Hemingway award and was shortlisted for the National Book Award and his most recent novel, To Rise Again at A Decent Hour, was nominated for the Booker Prize and won the Dylan Thomas Prize. He lives in upstate New York.
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