Alice McDermott at Harvard Book Store
November 9, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes ALICE MCDERMOTT—award-winning novelist and member of the faculty at the Sewanee Writers Conference—for a discussion of her new novel Absolution. She will be joined in conversation by LAURA ZIGMAN, author of Small World.
In Saigon in 1963, two young American wives form a wary alliance. Tricia is a starry-eyed newlywed, married to a rising oil engineer “on loan” to US Navy Intelligence. Charlene is a practiced corporate spouse and mother of three, a talented hostess and determined altruist, on a mission to relieve the “wretchedness” she sees all around her.
When Tricia miscarries, Charlene sweeps her into a cabal of well-dressed do-gooder American wives. Armed with baskets filled with candy and toys, they descend on hospitals, orphanages, and a leper colony on the coast, determined to relieve suffering, no matter the cost.
Sixty years later, Charlene’s daughter reaches out to Tricia, now widowed and living in Washington. As the two relive their shared experience in Saigon, they are forced to come to terms with the ways their own lives have been shaped and stunted by Charlene’s pursuit of “inconsequential good.”
With a narrative impact that recalls Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, Alice McDermott confronts the unresolved mysteries and ironies of America’s tragic interference in Southeast Asia.
Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.
While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:
- Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
- Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
- Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.
Ordering a signed book by phone:
- Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
- If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.
Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.
Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!
Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.
I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.
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