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Francisco Goldman’s first novel since his widely acclaimed, nationally bestselling Say Her Name (winner of the Prix Femina étranger),
Monkey Boy is a sweeping story about the impact of divided identity—whether Jewish/Catholic, white/brown, native/expat—and one
misfit’s quest to heal his damaged past and find love.
Our narrator, Francisco Goldberg, an American writer, has been living and working in Mexico City as a journalist for over a decade, but has recently returned to New York City in hopes of “going home again.” It’s been five years since the end of his last relationship and he is falling in love again with a new woman. Soon, though, he is beckoned back to Boston by his former high school girlfriend who was witness to his greatest youthful humiliations, and his Guatemalan mother, Yolanda, around whom his story orbits like a dark star. Backdropping this five-day trip to his childhood home is the specter of Frank’s recently deceased father, Bert, an immigrant from Ukraine who was volcanically tempered, pathologically abusive, yet also at times infuriatingly endearing; as well as the high school bullies who gave him the moniker “monkey boy.”
Told in an intimate, irresistibly funny, and passionate voice, this extraordinary portrait of a family and of growing up a “halfie,” unearths the hidden cruelties in a predominantly white, working-class Boston suburb where Francisco came of age and explores the pressures of living betwixt and between worlds all his life. Monkey Boy is a new masterpiece of autobiographical fiction from one of the most important American voices in the last forty years.