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Molly Prentiss NAILS the art scene in New York-1980. Artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Keith Haring are just starting to make it big in the exploding art/money world of downtown New York. Her main characters; an Argentinian painter fleeing the turmoil of the Dirty War and a brilliant arts writer gifted with synesthesia are unforgettable. I couldn't put this down and finished it in two big gulps.
— From Michael
April 2016 Indie Next List
“A synesthetic art critic rises to prominence by capturing the je ne sais quoi of great new paintings in terms of sound, aura, and taste. A young painter escapes war in his native Argentina to bring his unusual portraits to New York. A wide-eyed farm girl leaves home for the gritty promise of the big city, destined to become a muse of the art scene. The web between these characters becomes increasingly tangled as 1980 progresses in all its dark glamour. Prentiss captures raw ambition, startled joy, and aching tragedy equally well to produce a thought-provoking, originally textured novel that both transports and awes.”
— Richael Best (W), The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
"In one sentence, Ms. Prentiss captures a sense of intoxication and possibility that six seasons of voice-overs from Sarah Jessica Parker never could...Ms. Prentiss concludes her novel on a note that's both ethereal and brutally realistic. She cauterizes wounds, but they're still visible and bare. But for her characters--for this promising author--it's enough." --The New York Times "An intoxicating Manhattan fairy tale...As affecting as it is absorbing. A thrilling debut." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A vital, sensuous, edgy, and suspenseful tale of longing, rage, fear, compulsion, and love." --Booklist
A transcendent debut novel that follows a critic, an artist, and a desirous, determined young woman as they find their way--and ultimately collide--amid the ever-evolving New York City art scene of the 1980s.
Welcome to SoHo at the onset of the eighties: a gritty, not-yet-gentrified playground for artists and writers looking to make it in the big city. Among them: James Bennett, a synesthetic art critic for The New York Times
whose unlikely condition enables him to describe art in profound, magical ways, and Raul Engales, an exiled Argentinian painter running from his past and the Dirty War that has enveloped his country. As the two men ascend in the downtown arts scene, dual tragedies strike, and each is faced with a loss that acutely affects his relationship to life and to art. It is not until they are inadvertently brought together by Lucy Olliason--a small town beauty and Raul's muse--and a young orphan boy sent mysteriously from Buenos Aires, that James and Raul are able to rediscover some semblance of what they've lost.
As inventive as Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad
and as sweeping as Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings
, Tuesday Nights in 1980
boldly renders a complex moment when the meaning and nature of art is being all but upended, and New York City as a whole is reinventing itself. In risk-taking prose that is as powerful as it is playful, Molly Prentiss deftly explores the need for beauty, community, creation, and love in an ever-changing urban landscape.