We Shall Not All Sleep

We Shall Not All Sleep : A Novel

3.23 (278 ratings by Goodreads)
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"An utterly compelling novel from a brilliant new voice." --M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans

Seven Island has two houses. One for Hillsingers and one for Quicks.

1964. The Hillsingers and the Quicks have shared the small Maine island of Seven for generations. But though technically family--Jim Hillsinger and Billy Quick married Park Avenue sisters Lila and Hannah Blackwell--they do not mix. Now, on the anniversary of Hannah's death, Lila feels grief pulling her toward Billy. And Jim, a spy recently ousted from the CIA on suspicion of treason, decides to carry out the threat his wife has explicitly forbidden: to banish their youngest son, the twelve-year-old Catta, to the neighboring island of Baffin for twenty-four hours in an attempt to make a man out of him.

With their elders preoccupied, the Hillsinger and Quick children run wild, playing violent games led by Catta's sadistic older brother James. The island manager Cyrus and the servants tend to the families while preparing for the Migration, a yearly farming ritual that means one thing to their employers, and something very different to them.

Set during three summer days, Estep Nagy's debut novel moves among the communities of Seven as longstanding tensions become tactical face-offs in which everything is fair game for ammunition. Vividly capturing the rift between the cold warriors of Jim's generation and the rebellious seekers of Catta's, We Shall Not All Sleep is a richly told story of American class, family, and manipulation--a compelling portrait of a unique and privileged WASP stronghold on the brink of dissolution.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 27.94mm | 561g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Bloomsbury USA
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1632868415
  • 9781632868411
  • 779,184

Review quote

"In this fine-tuned, observant debut, the Hillsingers and the Quicks share a complicated family-line rivalry that just won't quit . . . A chilling portrait of privilege and secrets." - Marie Claire

"Written for a new era of uncertainty, in which there's much to believe in and little to depend on." - Vogue

"Arresting." - Best Books of the Summer, Elle Magazine

"Maine families tangle themselves into a sailor's knot of Waspy kerfuffles in Estep Nagy's We Shall Not All Sleep." - Sloane Crosley, Vanity Fair's "What to Read Right Now"

"Estep Nagy's razor-sharp debut, We Shall Not All Sleep, brings us Jim Hillsinger, a Cold War-era high WASP with a wandering wife and a CIA career that's just gone up in smoke." - W Magazine

"[We Shall Not All Sleep] has C.I.A. secrets, intergenerational family drama, WASP warfare, and all sorts of other twists and turns that will keep your eyes glued to the pages. A summer read if there ever was one, this is one of those literary beach books you won't be able to put down." - Refinery29

"An unusual and compelling debut . . . a surprising delight. Nagy mixes narrative modes and tones (and generations) nimbly; it's rare to see suspense and literary lyricism woven together so well." - Kirkus Reviews

"An engrossing, multi-layered story of loss, betrayal and privilege, played out against an unforgiving setting." - Daily Mail

"Nagy neatly juggles his many characters, allowing suspense to develop naturally and working in thought-provoking variations on the themes of betrayal and survival." - Booklist

"Transcending the mere narrative of an inter-family rivalry, We Shall Not All Sleep uses the developed nuance of its prose to create a psychological investigation into the choices and behaviors of its protagonists, mirrored by the complexity of a decade on the brink of bringing about everlasting change." - Washington Independent Review of Books

"An absolutely invigorating fiction debut . . . Nagy writes it with such a clean, graceful prose line that he transforms it all into a fascinating multi-part psychological investigation." - Open Letters Monthly

"Nagy writes fluently of the island's old-world WASP milieu, with its privileges, rituals, and sometimes surprising credos." - Omnivoracious, The Amazon Book Review

"From the first sentence, We Shall Not All Sleep whisks us off to the arcane world of the Quicks and the Hillsingers on Seven Island, a place alive with elaborate, arbitrary traditions and political and emotional tensions. Effortlessly interweaving intergenerational stories and cold war intrigue, the book explores the crossing of thresholds - between hearts and life stages, between islands and ideologies - and what such transitions cost. Torn between their desires as individuals and their duties to their wider group, Nagy's subtly drawn characters struggle to negotiate the gap between visible and invisible rules; between information and true understanding. Written with an exquisitely light touch, the result is an utterly compelling novel from a brilliant new voice." - M. L. Stedman, author of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

"This is an amazing book. It's rare to encounter such mature insight into as interesting and complex characters as these. Anyone who is fascinated by human crossovers and transformations will be thankful for We Shall Not All Sleep." - Gail Godwin, author of FLORA
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About Estep Nagy

Estep Nagy's writing has appeared in Southwest Review, The Believer, The Spectator, Paper, and elsewhere. He is the writer and director of The Broken Giant, an independent feature film starring Will Arnett, John Glover, and Chris Noth that is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and his plays have been produced across the U.S. as well as in the U.K. and Australia. He attended Yale University.
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Review Text

Nagy deftly captures the way a political atmosphere of mistrust and manipulation can color even the most private interactions. The New Yorker
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Rating details

278 ratings
3.23 out of 5 stars
5 14% (38)
4 28% (79)
3 33% (91)
2 18% (49)
1 8% (21)
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