Upcoming Event

Garth Risk Hallberg at Harvard Book Store


The Second Coming: A Novel

in conversation with J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN


June 6, 2024
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 GARTH RISK HALLBERG— bestselling author of City on Fire and Field Guide to the North American Family—for a discussion of his new novel The Second Coming. He will be joined in conversation by J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN—bestselling author of Friends and Strangers and Saints for All Occasions.

About The Second Coming

When thirteen-year-old Jolie Aspern drops her phone onto the subway tracks in 2011, her estranged dad, Ethan, seems like the furthest thing from her mind. A convicted felon and recovering addict, Ethan has long struggled to see beyond himself. But then a call from New York makes him fear his daughter’s in deeper trouble than anyone realizes. And believing he’s the only one who can save her, he decides to return home.

So begins the journey that will, in time, push Jolie and Ethan—child and adult, apart and together, different yet the same—out past their depths.

Full of yearning and revelation, The Second Coming is at once an incandescent feat of storytelling and an exploration of an enduring mystery: Can the people we love ever really change?

Praise for The Second Coming

“Reading Garth Risk Hallberg is a constant delightful surprise—you never know what’s coming next: a gorgeous turn of phrase, a perfect pop culture reference, a brilliant new observation, a jaw-dropping plot twist. And all of these gifts are on full display in The Second Coming, a story about a father bound up by his mistakes, a daughter bound up in her silence, and a family in need of saving. It’s a beautiful and daring novel, as inventive as it is breathtaking.” —Nathan Hill, author of Wellness

“A portrait of a daughter in crisis and a father in need of redemption, Garth Risk Hallberg’s The Second Coming is a powerful statement about the clarifying sense of purpose to be found in parental love, and how we demand more of ourselves for the sake of our children. Hallberg’s Ethan is a fascinating study in whether a certain kind of arrested American male, consumed early on by purposelessness and addiction, can in fact have a second act, even if his first is still, somehow, belatedly, being written, and not entirely by him.” —Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves

“Garth Risk Hallberg’s The Second Coming is a sprawling, aching, ultimately hopeful account of a father’s love for a daughter and a daughter’s defiance of that love when all too often it manifests as dysfunction. Hallberg deals with the dilemma of parental inheritance with a light touch, and the grace that finally descends on the Aspern clan is not only transformative but triumphant.” —Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Garth Risk Hallberg
Garth Risk Hallberg

Garth Risk Hallberg

Garth Risk Hallberg’s first novel, City on Fire, was a New York Times and international best seller and was selected as one of the best books of 2015 by The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Vogue. It was the basis for the Apple TV+ series of the same name. He is also the author of the novella A Field Guide to the North American Family. In 2017, Granta named him one of the Best of Young American Novelists. His work has been translated into seventeen languages.

Photo Credit: Michael Lionstar

J. Courtney Sullivan
J. Courtney Sullivan

J. Courtney Sullivan

J. Courtney Sullivan is the best-selling author of the novels Commencement, Maine, The Engagements, Saints for All Occasions, and Friends and Strangers. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages. Sullivan's writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, New York, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among many others. In 2017, she wrote the forewords to new editions of two of her favorite classic novels—Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children. Her latest novel is The Cliffs, which will be published by Knopf this July.

Photo Credit: Niall Fitzpatrick

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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.

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