Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)

The Swimmers

Best Seller
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka
Hardcover $23.00
Feb 22, 2022 | ISBN 9780593321331

Buy from Other Retailers:

See All Formats (4) +
  • Jan 24, 2023 | ISBN 9780593466629

    Also available from:

  • Mar 22, 2022 | ISBN 9780593556627

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Feb 22, 2022 | ISBN 9780593321331

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Feb 22, 2022 | ISBN 9780593321348

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Listen to a sample from The Swimmers

Product Details

Praise

A Best Book of the Year: VOGUE and KIRKUS ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE FINALIST

“Otsuka’s prose is powerfully subdued: She builds lists and litanies that appear unassuming, even quotidian, until the paragraph comes to an end, and you find yourself stunned by what she has managed, your throat tight with the beautiful detail . . . This is a novel of not just accumulation, but repetition, scenes looping in the way that the mind does, or the way swimmers swim laps. Compounded, these accretions build to an incredible feeling of loss, and too-late-ness . . . In a time of monotony and chaos, when death is as concrete as it is unimaginable, and when cracks can and do appear in the pool for no discernible reason, The Swimmers is an exquisite companion.” –Rachel Khong, The New York Times Book Review

“Once per decade we are graced with a new book by Otsuka, the award-winning author of 2012’s The Buddha in the Attic and 2003’s When The Emperor Was Divine. This year’s novel starts as a catalogue of spoken and unspoken rules for swimmers at an aquatic center but unfolds into a powerful story of a mother’s dementia and her daughter’s love. If Otsuka doesn’t write another novel for several years, it will be okay. This is one to be savored and reread.” –Becky Meloan, The Washington Post

The Swimmers is a slim brilliant novel about the value and beauty of mundane routines that shape our days and identities; or, maybe it’s a novel about the cracks that, inevitably, will one day appear to undermine our own bodies and minds; and — who knows? — it could also be read as a grand parable about the crack in the world wrought by this pandemic . . . Otsuka’s signature spare style as a writer unexpectedly suits her capacious vision . . . The Swimmers has the verve and playfulness of spoken word poetry.” –Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air/NPR

“Otsuka beautifully renders the particularities of a life fully using every word, including the pronouns. She has a way of presenting seemingly objective details, but the emotions seep through the minutiae so that we know and feel much about Alice and those who care for her. With virtuosity, Otsuka hands us each crystallized inch of this tale that reflects a life — the pages memorialize what can’t be forgotten . . . The Swimmers is [an] artfully refined story, even when it delves into the most painful parts of life.” –Abby Manzella, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“[The Swimmers] is a masterclass in the use of non-traditional points-of-view. This slim, gorgeous book is divided into five chapters . . . and provides the reader with fresh insight into both the story being told and the craft of writing it.” —Laura Spence-Ash, Ploughshares

“[The Swimmers] offers satirical comment on contemporary life with nimble precision . . . Julie Otsuka finds a deft humor in each observation.” —Benedict Nguyễn, Los Angeles Review of Books

“There are books that seem as if they were written just for me, and Julie Otsuka’s The Swimmers is one of them . . . In Otsuka’s signature style, The Swimmers is a grand pointillist narrative driven by the unrelenting accretion of details like dots of color filling up the canvas . . . Otsuka [is] taking the gloves off in a way she hasn’t since the ending of When the Emperor Was Divine.” –Alice Stephens, Washington Independent Review of Books

“A quick and tender story of a group of swimmers who cope with the disruption of their routines in various ways . . . Otsuka cleverly uses various points of view: the swimmers’ first-person-plural narration effectively draws the reader into their world, while the second person keenly conveys the experiences of Alice’s daughter, who tries to recoup lost time with her mother after Alice loses hold of her memories and moves into a memory care facility. It’s a brilliant and disarming dive into the characters’ inner worlds.”Publishers Weekly [starred review]

“Distinguished best-selling novelist Otsuka’s (Buddha in the Attic) latest is an introspective work that examines life’s journeys from a multitude of perspectives . . . Otsuka’s spare, dreamlike writing offers readers a deeply touching exploration of the impact on Alice’s Japanese American family (particularly her daughter) of caring for a loved one with dementia. Otsuka is noteworthy for her skilled storytelling and her ability to immerse readers in her characters’ emotional journeys. Essential reading for those already familiar with Otsuka’s work; those who haven’t read her are likely to be duly impressed.” –Shirley Quan, Library Journal [starred review]

“Julie Otsuka’s first novel in 10 years is a quiet and startling masterpiece about memory, aging and the indelible experiences that define a life . . . The Swimmers seems to continually reinvent itself as each section reframes everything that came before it. Reading something so inventive and playful is a bit like being inside an architectural blueprint as it’s being drawn, or watching an acorn grow into a massive oak in only a few minutes . . . With nuance, grace and deep tenderness, Otsuka ponders the questions that define our lives: Who are we without our memories? What does it mean to truly see someone else, to see ourselves? What is knowable about the world, and what do we do with the mysteries no one can solve? Funny, moving and composed of sentences that read like small poems, The Swimmers is a remarkable novel from a writer with an unparalleled talent for capturing the stuff of the world, whether mundane, harrowing or bizarre.” –Laura Sackton, BookPage [starred review]

“Award-winning, best-selling Otsuka is averaging one book per decade, making each exquisite title exponentially more precious. Here she creates a stupendous collage of small moments that results in an extraordinary examination of the fragility of quotidian human relationships . . . Once more, Otsuka creates an elegiac, devastating masterpiece.” –Booklist [starred review]

“Having concentrated on one family in her first novel, then eschewed individual protagonists for a collective ‘we’ in her second, Otsuka now blends the two approaches, shifting from an almost impersonal, wide-lens view of society to an increasingly narrow focus on a specific mother-daughter relationship . . . The combination of social satire with an intimate portrait of loss and grief is stylistically ambitious and deeply moving.” Kirkus Reviews [starred review]

Awards

Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction FINALIST 2023

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Get the latest updates about Julie Otsuka
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
By clicking SIGN UP, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
Dismiss
Thanks!
Something awesome is on its way.
Back to Top