Almost overnight, Arthur Wise has become one of the wealthiest and most powerful attorneys in America. His first big purchase is a simple beach house in a place called Bluepoint, a town on the far edge of the flexed arm of Cape Cod.

It’s in Bluepoint, during the summer of 1952, that Arthur’s teenage son, Hilly, makes friends with Lem Dawson, a black man whose job it is to take care of the house but whose responsibilities quickly grow. When Hilly finds himself falling for Lem’s niece, Savannah, his affection for her collides with his father’s dark secrets. The results shatter his family, and hers.

Years later, haunted by his memories of that summer, Hilly sets out to find Savannah, in an attempt to right the wrongs he helped set in motion. But can his guilt, and his good intentions, overcome the forces of history, family, and identity?

A beautifully told multigenerational story about love and regret, Wise Men confirms that Stuart Nadler is one of the most exciting young writers at work today.


“Surprising...The story stretches over both Wise men’s lifetimes and fills them with resonant complications...expertly wrought.” –Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Wise Men begins with an irresistible description of the narrator's father--an arrogant, preening, but still somehow lovable ambulance-chasing lawyer who becomes superrich and famous by prosecuting the airlines--and goes on to create a perfect picture of mid-20th-century America: a country naïve, ambitious, and possessed of a racism and anti- Semitism both genteel and pervasive. With stunning understanding--especially for a young author born well after the time his book describes--Nadler has written a story about fathers and sons, about love and longing and loss; a book that is funny and sad and local and global. Think Harper Lee crossed with Philip Roth: This is a truly Great American Novel." –Sara Nelson, (#1 “Spotlight Pick,” Amazon Best Book of the Month)

“Wise Men artfully shows how the intricacies of human interactions play out over time.” –Miwa Messer, Barnes & Noble (Spring 2013 Discover Pick)

“A historical novel with the gusto of Gatsby.” –People Magazine

“Much of this complex and honest novel is about the possibility of redemption for our past actions. But the emotionally searing sections revolve around Hilly's ambitious, tyrannical father, who is endowed with a mixture of such uplifting and upsetting qualities that you're constantly sifting through secrets and motivations, trying to understand him—and getting sucked into the story in the process.” –

“A subtly subversive first novel... For all of Wise Men’s meticulously conceived structure, the feeling it creates is a simple one: plaintive wonderment at how strange and unfair it is that things should be the way they are.” –The Daily Beast

“Stunning ... Nadler’s prose is honest, open, achingly tender and, above all, compulsively readable.” –The L Magazine

“Wise Men is a powerful tale dealing with familial dysfunction and racial differences, touching the heart of raw human emotion with insight and depth.” –New York Journal of Books

“Nadler is a gifted storyteller.” –Entertainment Weekly

“[A] brilliant debut novel...On the radar for years to come.” –Marie Claire

“A friend recently told me that I didn't recommend enough novels in this column, which I thought was a little crazy, because the majority of my suggestions skew heavily toward fiction. "No," he said, "I want to read a NOVEL." I told him saying "novel" more loudly didn't really clarify his point. But after thinking about it, I believe what he was looking for was a novel in the classic sense — something lengthy and ambitious, something that attempts to be A Great Work of American Fiction. So to anyone who feels the same way, I wholeheartedly recommend Stuart Nadler's sweeping, decade-spanning debut novel, Wise Men. It's the sort of patiently paced story you can settle into, steeped in rich characters and historical context... The second coming of John Cheever, with hints of Philip Roth.” –Grantland

 “Genuinely moving.” –The Boston Globe

“Simple, powerful and a conclusion that is not only surprising but deeply satisfying.” –The Dallas Morning News

“An accomplished debut spanning the last half of the 20th century in the US.” –Bookseller

One of the most anticipated books of 2013: "Here’s a recipe for a perfect novel: one part Cape Cod in summer; another part a wealthy family riven by secrets; another, racial intrigue, as its scion falls for a black woman; and stir for a delicious read. Though set in the early 1950s, Nadler’s novel should tide over those Mad Men fans with shaky hands.” –Newsweek/Daily Beast

"Big book by the next big thing.” Named one of the “Three Reads Everyone Will Be Talking About” in 2013. –Details

Named one of the “30 Most Anticipated Books of 2013” –Flavorwire

“Nadler’s portrait of doomed romance, along with dissections of wealth and success worthy of John Cheever, make this a very exciting debut.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Persuasive ... impressive; Nadler is a born storyteller.” –Kirkus

“A beautifully told multigenerational story about love and regret, Wise Men confirms that Stuart Nadler is one of the most exciting young writers at work today.” –IndieBound

"Wise Men reads like a classic; it is a completely engrossing novel, one that scars the reader’s heart in the most satisfying way. In confident, unpretentious prose, Nadler tackles the complexity of racial tension and fifties mores in a manner reminiscent of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, and in a smart, misses-nothing style that summons comparisons to Salinger and Cheever. Hilton Wise is a winsome and compelling narrator, one you’ll find yourself rooting for days after finishing the book. Nadler’s deft rendering of place, namely a secluded compound in coastal Massachusetts, allows the reader to become completely lost in Hilly’s world. Wise Men is, at its core, a brutal love story, full of surprise and conviction, insight and deception, staggering wealth and loss, truth and beauty.” –Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise

Wise Men is a brilliantly plotted and carefully observed novel that takes the reader deep inside a powerful family’s most guarded secrets. An epic saga about a son’s need to atone for the sins of his father and the sins of his own troubled youth. The driving heart of this ambitious novel is an impossible romance: one worth risking an entire outrageous fortune. With wisdom and compassion, Nadler examines the mysteries and manners of unrequited love. Wise Men confirms that Stuart Nadler is a writer of abundant talent and grace.” –Amber Dermont, author of the New York Times bestseller The Starboard Sea

“Stuart Nadler is an elegant writer and a compelling storyteller. Wise Men explores the big questions in life—love and money and race and identity—in a story packed with secrets, longings, and obsessions. It is not a book to be missed.” –Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of the New York Times bestseller The Language of Flowers 

“I have no doubt that Stuart Nadler is going to be one of our great novelists, and it all starts here, on a dune in Cape Cod, with the Wise men. These characters–knotted together with obligation, guilt, and love–will stay with me always.” –Emma Straub, author of Other People We Married and The Vacationers

“While Stuart Nadler’s ambitious debut novel touches on money, class, race and religion, first and foremost Wise Men is about youth, betrayal and regret. In his idealism and denial, Hilly Wise, the poor little rich boy, is a truly American character, and the perfect narrator for the tale.” –Stewart O’Nan, author of Emily, Alone and The Odds


Wise Men is published in North America by Little, Brown; in the UK by Picador; in Italy by Bollati Boringhieri; in France by Albin Michel; in Germany by Kiepenheuer & Witsch; in the Netherlands by Prometheus; in Spanish by Planeta Manuscrito.