While trying to save his marriage, a father struggles to reconnect with his newly devout son. A pure-hearted artist finds his devotion cruelly tested, while his true love tries to repent for the biggest mistake of her life. Forced together on a trip from Manhattan to Rhode Island, a father and son attempt to reconnect over lobster, cigarettes, and a buried secret. And in the collection’s daring first story, an arrogant businessman begins a forbidden affair during the High Holidays. The Book of Life is an unforgettable collection of stories about faith, family, grief, love, temptation, and redemption. Written in clear, crystalline prose, these stories signal the arrival of an exciting and bold new writer.


“Stuart Nadler is a great writer.” –Time Out London

“Betrayal and forgiveness infuse this impressive debut collection…Nadler skillfully creates characters whose failures and faults make them comically, endearingly human.” –The New Yorker

“Stuart Nadler’s “The Book of Life” is that rare thing: a collection of short stories that are not technically “linked” but together define a whole world as deliciously as any novel. …[T]hese tales…are funny and tragic and old-fashioned and brand-spanking-new, all at once.” –Sara Nelson, O Magazine

“Rueful melancholy and caustic humour permeate these impressive stories, set on America’s chilly east coast…The tone is set by the brilliant, bombastic opener…” –Catherine Taylor, The Guardian

“…perfectly crafted…Like all great short story writers, Nadler can make his characters whole with the minimal amount of gesturing.” –George Pendle, The Financial Times

“Nadler’s work celebrates the complexity hidden in ordinary-seeming lives and makes you eager to read whatever he writes next.” –Taylor Antrim, The Daily Beast

“Poignant, insightful, and beautifully written…” –Publishers Weekly

“Simple premises expand explosively and beautifully, both outward and inward, until each story, without being overlong, seems to contain the full record of the damage that life has wrought on the characters within…Nadler’s work is at the same time nourishing and accessible, and he is a major talent to watch.” –Nicholas Mancusi, The Daily Beast

“Stuart Nadler is striding confidently in the footsteps of some big old American legends like Philip Roth and Cheever and Updike” –Dazed and Confused Magazine

“…[I]n “The Book of Life,” the author seems able to capture nearly every life event and emotion in a single bundle of pages.” –The Baltimore Jewish Times

“I found these stories utterly absorbing; so perceptive, so crackling with wit, so sad. His characters ask too much of one another, take the long way around to asking the difficult questions of themselves, and that’s why they strike home so truly for the reader. It felt like a rich, almost transgressive delight to spend time in the worlds of these stories – even when they were permeated with the tension and unease which Nadler can evoke so skillfully.”  –Belinda McKeon, author of Solace, Irish Book of the Year 2011

Nadler’s writing flows so effortlessly that you almost miss the immense density and complexity of his debut book, The Book of Life. He writes with the pen of a master, but with the genuine passion of a novice. I’m tempted to go through each of the seven stories, dissect them, find their power, and steal it for myself. –Joe Winkler, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“A descendant of Cheever, Stuart Nadler traces evolving relationships with delicate, precise prose in his debut short story collection, The Book of Life.” –Jim Santel, The Rumpus

“A dazzling debut short story collection replete with characters wrestling with guilt and regret but fighting for lives with humor, spirit and the odd transgression.” –John McFarland, Shelf Awareness

In his debut collection of short stories, Stuart Nadler steps boldly onto the scene. I mean, just look at the title folks. Seven stories plunge into the complex, often strained, stretched and twisted bonds between parents, children, lovers and cheaters. This collection is as exciting a debut to hit our shelves as any in a long time.” –Paul Theirault, Brookline Booksmith

“Nadler seems to know his characters inside-out and spins out their foibles and frailties in a leisurely fashion… a writer’s writer, a fine observer of the nuances and idiosyncrasies of character.” –Kirkus

[a] moving debut story collection… a searing heartbreaker… –Sara Ivry, The Tablet

“With this collection, Nadler firmly establishes himself within the tradition of short story writers such as John Cheever and Richard Ford, and announces himself as a promising voice in contemporary fiction.” –Phil Sandick, Jewish Book World

“Work scuffles, messy affairs, the passage of loved ones, impending baldness—Nadler’s guy heroes seem to have no end of problems in this really smart and powerful collection of stories. –Daniel Goldin, Boswell Books

“Stuart Nadler will end up being compared to people you’ve heard of. Bellow, I’m guessing; Nathan Englander, probably Malamud, I.B. Singer. Heavy-hitters. This is both apt and not. Nadler’s great, and those guys are all great — so it makes sense. Sort of. But Nadler (like each of the others) is great in his own way. He addresses tradition, but he captures the right-now as well as anyone I know of. He’s heart-breaking, yet he’s funny. He writes beautifully, but his prose is lean — fat-free, even. He’s really worth reading, so please do.”  –Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng, and Half a Life

“Stuart Nadler has written seven of the most gorgeous, poignant, intricately crafted, and compulsively readable stories I have read in a long time.  His flawed protagonists tend to be forever on the brink of heartbreak, yet the unlikely effect of Nadler’s fiction is that life is continually reaffirmed.” –Frederick Reiken, author of Day for Night, and The Lost Legends of New Jersey

“Stuart Nadler is an artist of secrets. Line after line of clear, revealing prose turn out to be incendiary. These are stories that expand without warning. A striking, rousing collection of people waking up fast. Nothing in The Book of Life is without consequence.” –Rosecrans Baldwin, author of You Lost Me There

“A writer of keen perception and sensibility, Nadler describes the difficult thresholds that separate absence and presence, arrivals and departures, the sacred and profane, bright memory and dark nostalgia.  His writing reminds me why I love to read.” –Gina Oschner, author of The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight

“Stuart Nadler treats his characters like people.  The Book of Life is a fitting title for this collection—that’s what it’s about: life.  Here’s a Chekovian fascination with the human condition—the pleasures and tortures of family, love, sex, money, work, religion.  These are stories about fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, wives, husbands, friends, lovers—people with complex lives, troubled souls, deep hearts and messy desires.  Nadler is a writer, who, like Alice Munro, John Cheever or Bernard Malamud, does not write about “ordinary people” because he knows there’s no such thing as an ordinary person.  Each of these carefully wrought stories is as moving and masterful as a Chopin sonata; the notes and the silences between them will resonate with the reader for a very long time after they’re done.” –Benjamin Hale, author of The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

In The Book of Life, Stuart Nadler offers a fresh, funny, perceptive take on the current state of the Jewish family, including the families we make with our friends and lovers. Like Bernard Malamud, Nadler has a gift for comic, ironic dialogue and for setting thoroughly modern characters on a collision course with the distant past. A truly talented collection. –Sharon Pomerantz, author of Rich Boy