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A Visit from the Goon Squad
""A Visit From the Goon Squad.jpg
Hardcover edition
Author "Jennifer Egan
Country United States
Language English
Publisher "Knopf
Publication date
8 June 2010
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 288 pp.
"ISBN "978-0307592835
"OCLC 449844391
"LC Class PS3555.G292 V57 2010
Preceded by "The Keep
Followed by "Manhattan Beach

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a 2011 "Pulitzer Prize-winning work of fiction by American author "Jennifer Egan. The book is a set of thirteen interrelated stories with a large set of characters all connected to Bennie Salazar, a record company executive, and his assistant, Sasha. The book centers on the mostly self-destructive characters, who, as they grow older, are sent in unforeseen, and sometimes unusual, directions by life. The stories shift back and forth in time from the late 1960s to the present and into the near future. Many of the stories take place in and around New York City, although other settings include San Francisco, Italy, and Kenya.

In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, the book also won the "National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 2010. The novel received mostly positive reviews from critics.


Collection or novel[edit]

Because of its unusual narrative structure, some critics have characterized the book as a novel and others as a collection of linked "short stories. A Visit from the Goon Squad has 13 chapters, which can be read as individual stories and which do not focus on any single central character or narrative arc. Many were originally published as short stories in magazines such as "The New Yorker[1][2][3] and "Harper's Magazine. In an interview with Salon.com's Laura Miller, Egan said she leaned toward calling the book a novel rather than a short story collection. She has also said that she considers the book to be neither a story collection nor a novel.[4]




""Goon squads" were originally groups of violent thugs sent to assault workers who tried to form labor unions. Later the term "goon" came to refer more generally to any violent thug, and this is where the book draws its central metaphor. In one story, a character named Bosco declares: "Time's a goon, right?",[7] referring to the way that time and fate cruelly rob most of the book's characters of their youth, innocence and success. As Bosco complains: "How did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about?"[8] Some of the book's characters do end up finding happiness, but it is always a limited happiness, and it is rarely in the form they sought. In an interview, Egan explained that "time is the stealth goon, the one you ignore because you are so busy worrying about the goons right in front of you."[8]

Many of the book's characters work in the rock music business. Rock and roll, with its emphasis on youth culture, plays into the book's themes of aging and the loss of innocence. As Egan says, "my 9-year-old loves "Lady Gaga and refers to "Madonna as ‘old school’. There’s no way to avoid becoming part of the past."[8] Rock music was also central to the marketing push behind the book, although the actual text does not focus directly on musicians or music making. Egan said she knew rock and roll only as a consumer at the time she began writing the book and had to do a lot of research on the subject.[9]

Egan said the story was inspired by two sources: "Proust's "In Search of Lost Time, and HBO's "The Sopranos. It is a novel of memory and kinship, continuity and disconnection.[10]



The novel won both the "Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the "National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. The Pulitzer Prize Board noted that the novel was an "inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed".[11]

Critical reception[edit]

In commenting on her Pulitzer, "NPR critic Jonathan Bastian noted that "Egan is the one of the most recent and successful examples of a trend that has been steadily seeping into the world of contemporary literature." The unusual format of the novel, taking place across multiple platforms, has led some critics to label the novel "post-postmodern".[12] Many critics were impressed by Egan's experiments with structure, such as a section formatted like a PowerPoint printout.[13]


Two days after the Pulitzer Prize announcement, it was announced that a deal with "HBO for a television series adaptation had been signed.[14] However, after two years the proposal had been dropped.[15]


  1. ^ Egan, Jennifer (10 December 2007). "Found Objects". The New Yorker. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Egan, Jennifer. "Ask Me If I Care". The New Yorker. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Egan, Jennifer (11 January 2010). "Safari". The New Yorker. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Maran, Meredith (13 June 2010). ""Goon Squad": Jennifer Egan's time-travel tour de force". Salon.com. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "Reconstructing Timelines in A Visit From the Goon Squad". Reconstructing Timelines in A Visit From the Goon Squad. Retrieved 12 April 2018. 
  6. ^ "A Visit From The Goon Squad Character Map and Analysis". prezi.com. Retrieved 12 April 2018. 
  7. ^ (p. 109)
  8. ^ a b c "The Book on Aging Rockers", by Jane Ciabattari, The Daily Beast, 29 June 2010.
  9. ^ A Conversation with JENNIFER EGAN Archived 25 February 2011 at the "Wayback Machine., BBC Audiobooks America
  10. ^ "A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – review", "Sarah Churchwell, "The Guardian, 13 March 2011
  11. ^ "Pulitzer Prize Citation". Pulitzer.org. Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Speakeasy blog (18 April 2011). "Jennifer Egan on Winning the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Jennifer Egan wins fiction Pulitzer". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "HBO Sets Pulitzer Prize Winner 'A Visit From The Goon Squad' For Series Treatment", Mike Flemming, 20 April 2011
  15. ^ Alexandra Alter (21 February 2013). "TV's Novel Challenge: Literature on the Screen". "Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 

External links[edit]

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