When a man discovers his father in New York has long had another, secret, family–a wife and two kids–the interlocking fates of both families lead to surprise loyalties, love triangles, and a reservoir of inner strength.
SECRETS OF HAPPINESS
by Joan Silber
Counterpoint Press, May 2021
(chez Writers House)
Ethan, a young lawyer in New York, learns that his father has long kept a second family—a Thai wife and two kids living in Queens. In the aftermath of this revelation, Ethan’s mother spends a year working abroad, returning much changed, and events introduce her to the other wife. Across town, Ethan’s half brothers are caught in their own complicated journeys: one brother’s penchant for minor delinquency has escalated, and the other must travel to Bangkok to bail him out, while the bargains their mother has struck about love and money continue to shape their lives. As Ethan finds himself caught in a love triangle of his own, the interwoven fates of these two households elegantly unfurl to encompass a woman rallying to help an ill brother with an unreliable lover and a filmmaker with a girlhood spent in Nepal. Evoking a generous and humane spirit, and a story that ranges over three continents, SECRETS OF HAPPINESS elucidates the ways people marshal the resources at hand to forge their own forms of joy.
Joan Silber is the author of nine books of fiction. Her book Improvement was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award and was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among others. A previous book, Fools, was long-listed for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Other works include The Size of the World, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, and Ideas of Heaven, finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. She lives in New York and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program.