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Extended Audio Sample The Sunken Cathedral: A Novel, by Kate Walbert Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kate Walbert Narrator: Kate Walbert Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the National Book Award nominee and author of the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling A Short History of Women comes a deeply moving novel that follows a cast of characters as they negotiate one of Manhattan’s swiftly changing neighborhoods, extreme weather, and the unease of twenty-first-century life.

Marie and Simone, friends for decades, were once immigrants to the city, survivors of World War II in Europe. Now widows living alone in Chelsea, they remain robust, engaged, and adventurous, even as the vistas from their past interrupt their present. Helen is an art historian who takes a painting class with Marie and Simone. Sid Morris, their instructor, presides over a dusty studio in a tenement slated for condo conversion; he awakes the interest of both Simone and Marie. Elizabeth is Marie’s upstairs tenant, a woman convinced that others have a secret way of being, a confidence and certainty she lacks. She is increasingly unmoored—baffled by her teenage son, her husband, and the roles she is meant to play.

In a chorus of voices, Kate Walbert explores the growing disconnect between the world of action her characters inhabit and the longings, desires, and doubts they experience. Interweaving long narrative footnotes, Walbert paints portraits of marriage, of friendship, and of love in its many facets, always limning the inner life, the place of deepest yearning and anxiety. The Sunken Cathedral is a stunningly beautiful, profoundly wise novel about the way we live now.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Hypnotic…An unconventional and unsettling novel with vivid imagery and passages of pure poetry.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Walbert, a National Book Award finalist, tells this impressionistic story in luminous prose with an inventive narrative form that includes the extensive use of footnotes.”


  • The Sunken Cathedral is a gem of a novel—lyrical, ominous, and unexpectedly funny. Kate Walbert has somehow managed to write an elegy for a Manhattan that still exists, and characters who—like most of us—would prefer not to think about their impending doom.”

    Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers

  • “Kate Walbert’s frightening, timely novel follows an achingly particular cast, small flames unexpectedly doused, so that the prevailing uncertainty of what it is to be alive rises like the waters flooding coasts. The insufficiencies of sheltering-in against Sudden Weather turn Who We Are Stories into Who Are We plaints, yet Walbert is wise and funny and compassionate, and she gifts The Sunken Cathedral with birds and strokes of blue. ‘Much to learn from blue,’ a painter considers, and much to learn from this ambitiously made, great fiction.”

    Christine Schutt, author of Florida and All Souls

  • “The Sunken Cathedral is impressionistic, a bookof drifting shadows and blazing clarity; Kate Walbert has written a gorgeousand moving requiem for a people and a city that are not yet lost. Amagnificent achievement.”

    Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia

  • A BookPage Top Pick in June 2015 for Literary Fiction
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
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