secretsofhappiness
Photo by Shari Diamond
Photo by Shari Diamond
Out in Australia in June.  Out in the UK and Europe in August.
Out in Australia in June. Out in the UK and Europe in August.

“Silber’s fictional world is a web of overlapping lives with repeated conflicts and themes, each strand woven skillfully into an integrated whole. As in her previous novel, Improvement, Silber makes dramatic jumps in space and time, chronicling generations of families, lovers, and friends. Each chapter is distinct in its focus and pace—some cover weeks; others, decades—adding details to the overarching structure, which when complete offers a sweeping panorama of the last 60 years.”
– Sean Kinch, Chapter16

“Her latest novel—cerebral yet intimate and tender—again dissects, with stunning precision, a family’s physiognomy as revelations of a father’s secret life force the survivors to revisit their own beliefs about themselves, and each other.”
– Oprah Daily

“In book after book, Silber gets things up and running with one character, telling his or her story to its fullest, before leaping into a wholly different life and telling all about it. These narratives are often richly rewarding on their own, but more sublime is what can fall out between any two accounts: some devastating misunderstanding or easily missed opportunity that, heartbreaking as it might be for the characters, rewards the reader with a rare, delectable irony. Silber illuminates those invisible fissures and inexplicable distances that we sense, however dimly, make up our shared lives with others as much as our formal connections and open battles . . . I never wonder more at how little we know about how greatly we factor in other people’s lives than I do when reading Silber at her best. She aims, in increments, at the ecstatic . . . Silber delivers . . . something humane, elegant and wise.”
– Joshua Ferris, The New York Times Book Review

“In the seven artfully linked stories of Ms. Silber’s new novel, ‘Secrets of Happiness,’ we find both types, but once again those who display the will to be canny, which money in the offing or in the pocket seems to confer, are the most deeply penetrated and superbly conjured . . . Each of the seven sections engages our interest right off the bat; each has a first sentence pregnant with promise . . . Having seized our attention, Ms. Silber pushes forward into her characters’ stories, summing up in fleet, fluid prose the circumstances and acts that have shaped their lives to this point, then slipping deftly into further events where, for better or worse, the gravitational force of money can be felt . . . [It is] rich with the complexities of life; the characters’ motives and their decisions arise out of personalities meeting circumstance. Further, the stories create a world made fully dimensional through changes of perspective—major characters appear and reappear as part of one or another’s experience and testimony . . . Pull any life’s thread and you discover a mesh of involvement that soon takes in all the others. It is a fine thing, subtly done, and truly exhilarating.”
– Katherine A. Powers, The Wall Street Journal

“From a master of family dramas comes this new one about a young lawyer in New York who learns that his father has long kept a second family living in Queens. In the aftermath, each family member is caught in their own complicated journey, as they come to terms with who they are and what they believe in. Taking place over three continents, Secrets of Happiness is about surprise loyalties, love triangles and how a family can tap into a reservoir of inner strength.”
– Sarah Stiefvater, PureWow

Paperback on sale April 2022

Praise for Secrets of Happiness

“There is no one else like her—she invents a new improvised form for her fiction.”
-MICHAEL SILVERBLATT, KCRW‘s Bookworm

“Silber leaps across continents and decades, characters age and screw up and die, but the astonishing detail of her imagination keeps any of it from seeming glib . . . Sometimes the dexterity and plentitude of Silber’s plotting take your breath away, or make you want to laugh. Why isn’t there more fiction like this? . . . Why isn’t there more fiction that’s such a pleasure to read, simply because of its clarity, wisdom, heart, and elegance? Secrets of Happiness feels like a benchmark, a guiding star, a minimum height requirement; I’d like to say I will never again settle for fiction that’s not as good as this, but I know I will have to.”
-NICK HORNBY,The Believer

Secrets of Happiness is classic Joan Silber . . . Silber’s effortless dissemination of facts in narrative is always impressive because her characters are so engaging and believable.”
– Susan Straight, Los Angeles Times

“Secrets of Happiness” looks like a series of linked stories, but it’s more like a roulette wheel in print: Each chapter spins to some other character in a large circle of possibilities. It takes only a moment to get your bearings, and the disappointment of leaving one narrator behind is instantly replaced by the delight of meeting a new one . . .  These stories unfurl with such verbal verisimilitude that they’re like late-night phone calls from old friends. Every imperative page trips along with the wry wisdom of ordinary speech—the illusion of artlessness that only the most artful writers can create . . . Their stories—like ours—all revolve around money and love. Can a check ever come with no strings attached? Who cares enough to nurse the dying? Who deserves the inheritance? These tales turn on such questions, as though Silber were holding a coin in the light, testing the mettle of each grasping, grateful, generous soul . . . In quiet, surprising moments, ‘Secrets of Happiness’ suggests something lies beyond the columns of loss and gain, something one character calls ‘the sunny opacity that love can induce.'”
– Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“Silber’s ninth novel tackles this intriguing question from the perspectives of multiple narrators, with her characteristic expansive and thoughtful flair.”
– New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“Silber’s storytelling is so artful, so filled with humor and aperçus and diverting asides that it’s moral lessons emerge quite gently . . . Silber makes faraway places seem familiar. And perfect timing, as travel is a secret of happiness we can again embrace.”
– Marion Winik, The Weekly Reader

Reading Secrets of Happiness means getting to know a cast of characters whose lives intertwine in ways even they don’t know at the beginning of the book. After a year of near-solitude, it’s a refreshing, illuminating adventure.”
– Jane Ciabattari, Literary Hub

“Critic Charles Finch called Silber America’s Alice Munro. Her new novel-in-stories, ‘Secrets of Happiness,’ confirms Finch’s assessment . . . Silber explores the difficult act of self-fashioning in the face of financial obstacles, racism, illness, mortality, familial pressures, and obligations. Her characters steal, cheat, and lie, they fall into addiction and give in to destructive anger, but they are never reduced to cartoons or stereotypes . . . All of Silber’s narrators grapple with similar tensions between their yearning for autonomy and the constraints imposed on them by their families, their societies, their own natures. At the same time, they come to understand and forgive those who have harmed or wronged them, and such capacious empathy is what frees them to experience happiness in all its elusive richness . . . Charles Dickens, whose novels are mentioned several times by narrators, hovers as a kind of tutelary spirit over the book. Wealth, class, inheritance—the main Dickensian themes are Silber’s too. In the emphasis on wills, legacies, and inter-familial feuds, ‘Bleak House’ looms large. But in its depiction of vulnerable humans making their way in a difficult world, watching their hopes, expectations, and ambitions come to nothing and revaluing what is most important, and in its use of first-person narrators, ‘Secrets of Happiness’ seems most indebted to ‘Great Expectations.’ Here we have six Pips, bound together by strange coincidences and chains of connection, ruminating on innocence and experience, disappointed, disillusioned, yet still longing for true happiness. These are recognizable people, stepping out from the ruins of their lives, who have been bent and broken, but perhaps into a better shape.”
– Priscilla Gilman, The Boston Globe

“Silber writes compellingly in terms of connecting characters, she just has a very unique style . . . Joan Silber weaves together this phenomenal story that spans from London to NY to Cambodia with ordinary people with their emotions and humor . . . It’s as if you are in a snowstorm and someone has put this warm blanket around you because you get involved with the characters, they’re ordinary people with ordinary struggles, she brings you to them with a voice you trust . . . This is a good book if you want to have something to look forward to in the evening.”
– Kassie Rose, All Sides, WOSU

“Silber weaves together an intricate story about love, loyalty and betrayal.”
– Annabel Gutterman, Time

“Exceptional . . . The push and pull of commerce and love plays out in other family disasters throughout ‘Secrets of Happiness,’ each chapter so well constructed and compelling it could stand as a separate story. Every character knows someone else in the book, and as lives bump against each other, bruises result . . . The easy, uncluttered prose reveals the connections between characters without artifice, and Silber can’t resist highlighting life’s paradoxes.”
– Connie Ogle, Minneapolis Star Tribune