The Booksmith is delighted to host the launch party for Ethel Rohan's debut novel, The Weight of Him. Ethel will read from the book and be in conversation with Edan Lepucki, followed by a Q&A and book signing. Join us!
The Weight of Him tells the story of Billy Brennan. At four hundred pounds, Billy can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life. Billy determines to make a difference in Michael’s memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention—his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on.
Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he saves from disposal at the toy factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of the suffering and brokenness within and around him that he and others will realize the recovery they need. Set in rural, contemporary Ireland, The Weight of Him is an unforgettable, big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.
“The Weight of Him is an achingly sad, achingly lovely novel that speaks to the essential core of our shared human experience. I will not soon forget it. Ethel Rohan, a prodigiously skilled short story writer, has proved herself, in this debut novel, to be a master of the long form as well.” — Robert Olen Butler, author of Perfume River
“In The Weight of Him Ethel Rohan shows herself to be one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the ‘ordinary’ and show just how extraordinary it really is. A brave and moving book.” — John Banville, author of The Blue Guitar
“Ethel Rohan is a writer of great courage and emotional intelligence. She can also tell a damn good story. The Weight of Him is about loss and about life. It is involving, terrifying and ultimately quite beautiful.” — Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me
Ethel Rohan's debut novel, The Weight of Him, won the inaugural Plumeri Fellowship. She is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. An award-winning short story writer, her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, Tin House Online, GUERNICA Magazine, The Stinging Fly, and many others. Raised in Dublin, Ireland, she lives in San Francisco and received her MFA in fiction from Mills College, CA. She is a member of San Francisco Writers' Grotto.
Edan Lepucki is the author of the novella If You're Not Yet Like Me and the New York Times bestselling novel, California. Her next novel, Woman No. 17, will be published in May. She's a contributing editor at The Millions and the founder of Writing Workshops Los Angeles.
RSVP appreciated but not required. If you cannot attend the event, but would like to request a signed copy of The Weight of Him, please order below and put your request in the comments field.