NOVEMBER 22, 1963
An Indie Next List Notable Selection
Finalist, Texas Institute of Letters Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction
"With a captivating mix of fact and fiction, Braver chronicles the events surrounding JFK’s assassination to moving effect . . . While the accumulation of small moments gives the book its weightiness, the stories of people peripherally associated with the assassination make the book sing . . . Braver reveals the tragedy of a national story that decades later can still be acutely felt."
“Braver is a terrific writer, an observer of the most acute details; throughout the book, he traces the subtle interactions of his characters as they collide and move apart . . . It's a risky choice, but it pays off because, 45 years later, the only way to see this story afresh may be to observe it on purely human terms.”
--Los Angeles Times
“Adam Braver's November 22, 1963 focuses on the singular event of President Kennedy's assassination, fusing fiction and fact from eyewitnesses and other sources to make for a blazingly original, brilliantly concretized historical novel from the author of Mr. Lincoln's War.”
“Beautifully written, November 22, 1963 blurs the line between novel and journalism into something more powerful than either—a visceral story of an unthinkable event that continues to touch millions, 45 years later.”
—The Dallas Morning News
“Braver has achieved more than a skillful retelling of a particularly morbid moment in American history. With its collage-like structure and postmodern blend of fact and fiction, November 22, 1963 raises fascinating questions about how we perceive history and the ways in which personal and collective experience intersect.”
— The Oregonian
“With the audacity of confidence and a sure sense of fiction's ability to tell eternal truths better than history -- or what's a myth for? -- Braver re-creates the day the world changed, a world in which the bullet still flies and the soul is forever diminished.”
“This terse, tense, tough novel is absolutely riveting . . . Braver keeps this solemn and somber tone throughout, his brisk, often lyrical declarative sentences as direct and translucent as the characters are unable to be . . . The power of narrative, however grim the subject, does console, if only bringing epiphanies of order out of ultimate, ongoing chaos.”
“Enough time has passed for Braver's story to be kept at a safe distance, but he doesn't overreach. Instead, he recounts that horrible day in November with no small measure of empathy, ‘obliterating a moment” in his own words and taking it back to a place “where even in violence the world seemed a little softer.’”
--San Diego Union-Tribune
“A literary piece that blends fact and fiction, making protagonists of real people and asking very deep questions about the history, nostalgia and loss.”
— Sacramento News & Review
“Braver’s use of multiple viewpoints, engaging personal insight, and short blocks of prose propel readers through this impressive example of historical fiction . . . Each individual expresses his or her experience succinctly and with an austerity that heightens our emotional investment.”
“By deconstructing this well-worn day into these new, fragmentary narratives, [Braver] tears back the layers of myth and ambiguity around Kennedy's assassination, laying it bare before rewrapping it in his own imagination, using a landslide of tiny, fragmentary details to "create a story that will be told so many times that it ends up true," one that offers not only new explanations but also a more human perpective capable of replacing all that has been lost forever to histories and conspiracy theories, to mere facts. November 22, 1963 is a fantastic novel, and one of my favorite books of 2008. “
--Matt Bell Review Site
“Braver mixes fact and fiction in this captivating look at the day JFK was assassinated. Where were you?”
--AARP Books for Grownups (December 2008)
“This recreation enlists small and often previously off-camera details to bring originality to the story we all know. Braver’s story becomes even more heartfelt with the characters he intertwines in the story. The experiences of the Texan who sold the government Kennedy’s casket, the mechanic in charge of the limousine in which Kennedy was shot and numerous others combine with the well-known historical figures to recreate a haunting and moving story.”
"You would think that by now every and any thing that could have been written about the murder of the president has been said a dozen times over...Yet this outstanding piece of non-fiction fiction from Adam Braver manages to do so, and thus makes the book very much worth the time and money to buy and read."
“[Braver] takes bits — not slices, just bits — of the lives of those who played their own small part in the day . . . He then pastes each of those images carefully together to make a vivid and compelling picture of that horrible history-making day.”
“Adam Braver has written a novel that has shades of Jim Bishop's "The Day Kennedy Was Shot" and E. L. Doctorow's "Ragtime.”
"Braver’s novel shows what can be done when a writer delves deeply into the textures and facts of a historical event about which we thought we knew everything. Of course we did not; we never know everything. His curiosity and reconstruction brings to life the human drama in a way that Oliver Stone and a roomful of conspiracy buffs never could. Yet the conspiracy buffs get all the press. Braver’s novel deserves a bigger share."
"Spellbinding...a mesmerizing tidal wave of facts, portraits, episodes, and stories...It's a memorable novel about a day the nation would like to forget and needs to remember."
— ForeWord Magazine
"Adam Braver has crafted a fantastic novel weaving real events with careful fiction, sweeping us back to Dallas on the day of the JFK assassination."
“...Braver shows himself to be a writer of acute judgment and talent. The degree of attention paid by the author to the micro-level of history lends his novel a humanity and perspective that had, I feared, been drained from popular representations of the assassination.”
—Karl Whitney, 3:AM Magazine
“This is historical fiction at its best: intensely researched (check out Braver's staggering list of acknowledgments, including the Oral History collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum [Maud Shaw's is among the transcripts Braver tells us he accessed]) and beautifully written. I recommend it highly.”
“Braver has found a way to once again dip into this event that shattered a nation, and reminds us of how devastating a day it was without simply re-hashing what others have written before. It's a bold task for a writer, begin to write about something that every reader picking the ball up already thinks they know the ending to, but Braver was more than up to the task.”
--Emerging Writers Network
“With a captivating mix of fact and fiction, Braver chronicles the events surrounding JFK's assassination to moving effect.”
—Fort Dodge Today
“One may feel drawn into the experience of various characters, while simultaneously treading above some darker, plunging depth. At other moments, there is only the residue of memory, the granite presence of fact...[Braver] writes with the seductive concision of an alternate commission, a tautness that gives authority to speculation and authenticity to the emotional valences, retrained as they are.”
—Ron Slate, On the Seawall
“Adam Braver’s collection is a piercing portrait of those who experienced the Kennedy assassination first-hand. Blending fiction and speculative reportage, he offers us a riveting account of the events that have come to seem a kind of shared national nightmare.”
--Steve Almond, author of Not That You Asked and Candyfreak
“This extraordinary reconstruction blends fact and imagination with a subtlety that utterly dissolves the line between public and private. It's the intimacy, the closeness we come to these (mostly) well-known protagonists, that is so shocking and moving. Adam Braver has pulled off quite a feat, realigning all our notions and expectations of historical fiction.”
--Phillip Lopate, author of Waterfront and Portrait of my Body
"Adam Braver has a wonderfully rich imagination and his grasp of historical characters and settings is both deep and natural. I would gladly read anything he writes."
-- Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me and the National Book Award Finalist Among the Missing
"I had thought that Don DeLillo's Libra was the last fictional word on the JFK assassination, but I was wrong. Like a sublime actor, Adam Braver inhabits these characters, especially Jacqueline Kennedy, in a way that seems brave and heartbroken and true. This is a haunting history play, of private agonies wrenched onto the public stage."
—April Bernard, author of Swan Electric
"I would never have thought there was a new way to view a moment so thoroughly dissected. Turns out there is. Quite an achievement."
—Suzanne Kleid, KQED
"November 22, 1963 is more than an intricately imagined microhistory of the primary American trauma of the late 20th century; it's also an affecting portrait of the then First Lady, simultaneously devastated and resilient as she moves from embodying her country's image of someone who controls fortune to someone who's been flattened by it."
—Jim Shepard, author of Like You'd Understand, Anyway
MR. LINCOLN'S WARS
A Book Sense 76 Selection
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
A Border's Original Voices Selection
#8 San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller List
"Imagined in poignant if not unexpected ways"
-- Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Absolutely contemporary, with all the pith and confusion of events still in motion."
--- Stewart O'Nan, author of Prayer for the Dying and Wish You Were Here
"Adam Braver has written a brilliant, disturbingly bold, beautiful novel . . . Reading it provides unforeseen, indispensable rewards."
--- Howard Norman, author of The Haunting of L. and The Bird Artist
"A bracingly unusual debut . . . Somber, yet graceful, these stories draw on Lincoln's public image while venturing a visceral intimacy."
--- Publisher's Weekly
"Adam Braver charts an original course in this imaginative novel in 13 stories."
--Dallas Morning News
"Audaciously fine writing, with marked originality and taut, acrid passages . . . As a first novel, Mr. Lincoln's Wars marks the debut of a talent to watch.
"The best of the tales are richly imagined and full of surprising idiosyncratic minutiae . . . I did find myself fascinated by the people Braver has created to surround him (Lincoln)."
--Washington Post Book World
"Braver conveys the vulnerability of a historical figure synonymous with strength."
-- New York Daily News
"Braver's dissection of Lincoln's enduring shadow is no less pungent, and, at times, brilliant and heroic. 'Mr. Lincoln's Wars' is, by turns, profane, erotic, gory, blunt and obsessed with the workings and -- in the various battlefield, hospital and assassination scenes -- the undoing of the human body."
--LA Times Book Review
"Braver uses a profoundly modern sensibility in these vignettes - intimate, psychologically astute - to coax Lincoln's many public and private wars closer to our own era. The overall effect, while occasionally jarring, is fresh and inventive."
-- Baltimore Sun
"Mr. Lincoln's Wars is not primarily about other men's egos, but about a president consumed by sorrow -- for family, country and self."
--NY Times Review of Books
"Twelve fine tales and one novella . . . Lyric and often pleasing."
--- Kirkus Reviews
"This is a powerful collection of stories, offering insight into an important epoch in American history and doing so in an artful and original style."
-- South Florida Sun-Sentinal
"An interesting, challenging read for fans of modern fiction who enjoy historical subjects."
"This is Braver's first book, and it's a powerful one."
"This highly original book evokes the Civil War era with startling effect."
--The Lincoln Forum
"Very much a contemporary reflection on war, grief, marriage and leadership, the book will resonate with many readers."
"An unsettling, curious, and fascinating work . . . Braver's is a boldly imaginative work and well worth anyone's reading time."
"A welcome counterweight to the sepia-toned nostalgia that seems to have crept over the Civil War in recent years. This has always been a weirder country than we like to admit."
"Braver’s prose comes alive with haunting effectiveness."
-- Sacramento News and Review
"In these stories Mr. Braver is at his best -- bold, beautiful, and creating touchingly lucid sceneries and characters."
--Civil War Book Review
"A powerful debut."
---Bookmarks Magazine's Bookseller Recommendations
"Sometimes an author can take your breath away with his descriptive prose, or his characters, or his setting, or his story. But Adam Braver takes your breath away with all of those. His Mr. Lincoln’s Wars is different, descriptively evocative, and totally engrossing."
-- NBC 10 - Providence, RI
"Braver shows himself to be a powerful, highly orginal writer."
-- Raleigh News & Observer
"For its strong base in story-telling, this novel is thrilling."
--Rapid River Magazine
"Through the devices of fiction, the reader is transported into the inner rooms of the White House and the president's deepest thoughts. Whether Braver is on target or not, his assumptions about the inner life of Lincoln ring true and read well."
"Readers interested in the wars between life and art, art and commerce, inspiration and age, should be captivated by Adam Braver's novel. The fateful moment when enthusiasm (if only momentarily) deserts us is the focus of this author's concern. And, of course, that fateful moment haunts us all."
--Carolyn See, Washington Post
"Braver's poignant and inventive second novel has produced a gracefully inspired story about the unavoidable effects of age on fame."
-- Publishers Weekly
"Lush and lyrical, Braver’s prose often shocks with its abrupt cruelty, yet through subtle nuances and provocative details he evokes the ethereal last days of America’s innocence."
"An elegant imagination of the life of legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt. Braver, whose debut was "Mr. Lincoln's Wars," is a writer of great promise.
--Best of 2004 (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
"Critical and careful, Braver is sparing in his words but chooses lyrical phrases and carefully crafts the flow of his narrative. He seamlessly melds fact and fiction into a believable whole."
"A journey into the heart of acting that's ever entertaining."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"What elevates Divine Sarah from a merely good work of historical fiction to something far greater is the quality of the prose. Never pedestrian, there are times when Braver's turn of phrase perfectly captures a fleeting emotion, a storm of conflict, a sense of total exhaustion. The result is a novel that is truly captivating and a deep exploration of an artist's sense of self and her relationship with those that love her, hate her, or simply misunderstand her."
-- Sarah Weinman, PopMatters
"Adam Braver's portrait of an aging, talented woman is a highly nuanced and rare accomplishment, simultaneously heartbreaking and elevating."
"Braver makes universal the longings and uncertainties of a person so removed from us by profession, time and culture . . . This universality extends to the story itself. Coming on the heels of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance, "Divine Sarah" seems au courant. After reading this fine book and getting to know Sarah Bernhardt, one can't help but think she would be amused by all the uproar."
" . . . A short novel about Sarah Bernhardt that I absolutely adored."
--The Underappreciated of 2004 List (Tingle Alley)
"We get to enjoy a portrait of the creative process itself, and watch as the swirl of actorly uncertainties and bulldog determinations coalesce into understanding. What a thrilling and delightful trip . . . This skillful novel never trips up in its exploration of the Divine Sarah."
-- Providence Phoneix
"(Braver) makes the courageous choice of skipping past the unadulterated glamour of Bernhardt at the apex of her divinity for this lesser Sarah on the wane, tormented by her failing nerve and fading looks, and by the degree to which the fame she craves long ago eclipsed anything that might be confused with craft."
-- LA Times Book Review
"In rich, colorful prose, Braver explores and examines Bernhardt."
"Adam Braver . . . has a gift for imagining the three-dimensional details of historical moments and psyches."
"(Divine Sarah) explores the times, the actress and the inner fears of all of us who harbor even the faintest glimpse of the prima donna."
"Sarah Bernhardt was one of those vague historical names I knew little about. I'm grateful for Adam Braver's thought-provoking novel, which reimagines this fascinating figure and brings her and her times to vivid life."
--Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me and the National Book Award Finalist Among the Missing