I’ve been anticipating the reprint of British author Barbara Trapido’s 1982 debut novel, Brother of the More Famous Jack, for some time now—and it’s finally here! I’ve read pretty much everything that Barbara Trapido has written and have written about her here before. I have found no one else to match Trapido’s wit, style, and uncanny ear for character and dialogue.
Thankfully, Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go Bernadette (2012), has been singing Barbara Trapido’s praises in interviews and also wrote the introduction to the Bloomsbury reprint. Here is a sample of what Semple has to say about Trapido in her preface:
The first page was so charming it made my chest ache. (Go on read it . . . See what I am talking about?) As I continued, my thrill of discovery (This is the best book ever!) turned to panicked bewilderment (How could I not know Barbara Trapido?!).
I write this wiggling with excitement, just imagining the U.S. readers who will finally get their chance to discover, avidly pass around, and desperately adore this perfect little book.
Brother of the More Famous Jack won the Whitbread Special Prize for Fiction when it came out but has gone unsung in America. Here’s your chance to foist this marvelous book on your book group. There is just so much to discuss—a fascinating family, the Goldmans; Katherine, the protagonist, whose discoveries in love and life unfold with effortless beauty and aching clarity; marriage; love; literature; and more. There are countless themes to explore and discuss here. But mostly Barbara Trapido’s books beg to be just read and enjoyed for the sheer pleasure of it.