Glassworks by Olivia Wolfgang-Smith
A gorgeously written and irresistibly intimate queer novel that follows one family across four generations to explore legacy and identity in all its forms, longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.
“So deeply imagined and immersive that reading it felt like an invitation: Shatter what needs to be shattered and mold your story from what's left . . . I needed this novel, both for its cathartic devastation and the hope found in its wreckage.” -The New York Times
“Kaleidoscopic in its sweep, without sentimentality or showiness . . . Glassworks warrants our attention and our admiration. With its gripping turns and subtle prose, it is a near-perfect debut.” -Washington Post
In 1910, Agnes Carter makes the wrong choice in marriage. After years as an independent woman of fortune, influential with the board of a prominent university because of her financial donations, she is now subject to the whims of an abusive, spendthrift husband. But when Bohemian naturalist and glassblower Ignace Novak reignites Agnes's passion for science, Agnes begins to imagine a different life, and she sets her mind to getting it.
Agnes's desperate actions breed secrecy, and the resulting silence echoes into the future. Her son, Edward, wants to be a man of faith but struggles with the complexities of the mortal world while apprenticing at a
In 1986, Edward's child, Novak-just Novak-is an acrobatic window washer cleaning Manhattan high-rises, who gets caught up in the plight of Cecily, a small town girl remade as a gender-bending Broadway ingénue.
And in 2015, Cecily's daughter Flip-a burned-out stoner trapped in a bureaucratic job firing cremains into keepsake glass ornaments-resolves to break the cycle of inherited secrets, reaching back through the generations in search of a family legacy that feels true.
For readers of Mary Beth Keane, Min Jin Lee, and Rebecca Makkai, Glassworks is "an era-spanning, family and chosen-family following, marvel of a debut." (CJ Hauser, author of Family of Origin)