A literary novel for the summer that is both redemptive and utterly transporting, “No. 4 Imperial Lane” is an epic family story, reminiscent of Nick Hornby and Alan Hollinghurst, which takes readers from 1980s Brighton to the midst of revolutionary Angola. A singular debut from a seasoned New York Times reporter, Jonathan Weisman, “No. 4 Imperial Lane” is a book about the intersection of damaged lives — one that asks whether it is possible for an unexpected stranger to piece a family back together again.
Weisman is set to release his novel on Aug. 4 (a Twelve hardcover & ebook), and is celebrating the launch at two Brooklyn events. The first will take place Aug. 15 at 4 p.m. at BookCourt (163 Court St. in Cobble Hill), and the second on Aug. 16 (a ticketed Greenlight Book/Plate event, held in conjunction with Greenlight Bookstore, at 6 p.m. at 455A Myrtle Ave.)
As a senior congressional correspondent at The New York Times, Weisman has spent years covering the inner workings of Washington D.C. He built his career at The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Postand USA Today. But it was his time spent studying in the U.K. and serving in the African Peace Corps that always captured his imagination and inspired the incredible narrative of this book: a coming-of-age story that stretches across decades and continents.
In Brighton in 1988, at the University of Sussex, kids sport Mohawks and light up to the sounds of the Cocteau Twins, as conversation drifts from structuralism to the bloody Labour Students. David Heller, an American studying abroad who’s left the U.S. to escape his own grieving family, extends his stay by taking a job nursing Hans Bromwell. The son of a former member of parliament, Hans was left paralyzed by a mysterious accident and now lives with his sister Elizabeth in a cluttered house at No. 4 Imperial Lane.
As David befriends the Bromwells, the details behind the family’s staggering fall from grace are exposed: How Elizabeth’s love affair with a Portuguese physician carried the young English girl right into the battlefields of colonial Africa, where an entire continent bellowed for independence and left a family broken forever.