Phoebe Oppenheimer arrived in the world seventeen years after her triplet siblings, but as she likes to point out, she’s exactly the same age. Sally, Harrison, Lewyn, and Phoebe started as four embryos in a petri dish, three implanted, and one sent off to be frozen and just about forgotten. The triplets don’t exactly create the loving, close family their mother Johanna envisioned, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they can’t stand each other by the time they leave for college. In addition, their dad has checked out of their lives, supposedly (but only partially) due to his obsession with his art collection. Johanna, still hoping to create the blissful, loving family of her dreams, makes what feels like an impulsive decision, but actually did take quite a bit of planning. She hires a surrogate to carry the embryo that becomes Phoebe, the child nobody really wanted (including Johanna), but perhaps the one they all needed. Her wise and slightly cynical voice carries the novel from beginning to end, catching the reader up on all the many things she missed out on through her arrival seventeen years too late. She’s one of the few people you won’t want to strangle by the end of the book, but if you like messy family dynamics, then this one is a winner!— Jenny Chou
June 2022 Indie Next List
“I’ve been a big fan of Korelitz since her early works, but The Latecomer blew me away. A clever book about a family and all its messiness. Smart, funny and poignant, I was pulled in by the novel’s perfection. Bravo, more please!”
— Sue Boucher, The Cottage Book Shop, Glen Arbor, MI
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Plot, Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Latecomer is a layered and immersive literary novel about three siblings, desperate to escape one another, and the upending of their family by the late arrival of a fourth.
The Latecomer follows the story of the wealthy, New York City-based Oppenheimer family, from the first meeting of parents Salo and Johanna, under tragic circumstances, to their triplets born during the early days of IVF. As children, the three siblings – Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally – feel no strong familial bond and cannot wait to go their separate ways, even as their father becomes more distanced and their mother more desperate. When the triplets leave for college, Johanna, faced with being truly alone, makes the decision to have a fourth child. What role will the “latecomer” play in this fractured family?
A complex novel that builds slowly and deliberately, The Latecomer touches on the topics of grief and guilt, generational trauma, privilege and race, traditions and religion, and family dynamics. It is a profound and witty family story from an accomplished author, known for the depth of her character studies, expertly woven storylines, and plot twists.
About the Author
Jean Hanff Korelitz is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Plot, You Should Have Known (which aired on HBO in October 2020 as The Undoing, starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, and Donald Sutherland), Admission (adapted as a film in 2013 starring Tina Fey), The Devil and Webster, The White Rose, The Sabbathday River and A Jury of Her Peers, as well as Interference Powder, a novel for children. Her company BOOKTHEWRITER hosts Pop-Up Book Groups in which small groups of readers discuss new books with their authors. She lives in New York City with her husband, Irish poet Paul Muldoon.
"Jean Hanff Korelitz is an ambidextrous writer: not only can she write a tight and absorbing literary thriller like The Plot, but with The Latecomer she draws us in again, this time with her ease, grace and wit, in a satisfying novel that spans generations, lives, and fates."
—Meg Wolitzer, The New York Times bestselling author of The Female Persuasion
“If this novel is funny, it is also cutting, a nearly forensic study of family conflict. Husband and wife are at odds; children pull away not only from their parents but from one another. Nimbly, Korelitz juggles the stories of each parent and child, weaving a tapestry of secrets, antipathies and private quests. ... It’s testament to Korelitz’s achievement that her novel leaves us wanting more.”
—New York Times Book Review
"By the time we’re done with these siblings, their lives have been turned inside out, and all their stored-up junk and secret treasures have been sorted, culled and curated for this immensely enjoyable sojourn with a truly memorable family."
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post, "Jean Hanff Korelitz’s ‘The Latecomer’ offers wit in triplicate"
"It’s a marvelous story full of plot twists, intricacies, and depth in events that the reader will not see coming. Perfect for fans of character-based novels such as those by Sally Rooney or Lauren Groff."
"Korelitz (The Plot) returns with an irresistible dramedy of errors about a singularly unhappy family. This is a sizzler."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review
"It's a slow burn, but this complex and layered story of the Oppenheimer family is worth hanging on...."
—Good Housekeeping, "The 30 Best and Most-Anticipated Books of 2022 (So Far)"
"An ingenious family epic."
"[A] dazzling work of literary excellence from master of the written word Jean Hanff Korelitz."
—Good Morning America, "15 new reads to add to your reading list this month"
"Korelitz (The Plot) enthralls once again with this delicious family saga."
"The author of “The Plot” returns with a novel that skewers privilege and offers delights on every page."