A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles

A Moment in the Sun

It’s 1897. Gold has been discovered in the Yukon. New York is under the sway of Hearst and Pulitzer. And in a few months, an American battleship will explode in a Cuban harbor, plunging the U.S. into war. Spanning five years and half a dozen countries, this is the unforgettable story of that extraordinary moment: the turn of the twentieth century, as seen by one of the greatest storytellers of our time.Shot through with a lyrical intensity and ...

Details A Moment in the Sun

TitleA Moment in the Sun
Release DateMay 17th, 2011
PublisherMcSweeney's Publishing
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, War, Novels

Reviews A Moment in the Sun

  • Seamus Thompson
    True story: whenever I finish a book that I have not simply enjoyed but have truly loved reading, I follow the same simple ritual. I slowly close the book, hold it in both hands so I can squeeze the pages together between the boards, and then press my lips to the front cover. It has been awhile since I kissed a book but I planted a big smacker on John Sayles’ latest novel A Moment in the Sun.What can I say about this incredible, accomplished no...
  • Jonfaith
    There was an element of Papa's dictum in my reading of John Sayles' doorstop qua cinder block of a narrative, it sat gradually until suddenly I devoured its 1000 pages. My cheekiest nod to the novel is that its as if the Chums of Chance (Pynchon's creations in Against The Day) chose to chronicle American Race and Imperium. That said, Sayles never appears overwrought nor resigned to types or constructs in establishing his dramatic web.As many may ...
  • Hadrian
    A historical fiction book that's nearly a thousand pages long? And it was positively reviewed by Vollmann and published by McSweeney's? Sign me up!A big sweeping tour of the United States in the late 19th/early 20th century, taking place in the late Reconstruction era, the gold rush, and the Spanish-American war and Philippine insurgency. I was not too surprised to learn that the author is also a famed movie director - many of the scenes would tr...
  • Ron
    This will be the briefest review of one of the longest books I’ve ever read. At 955 pages, Sayles’ novel set at the turn of the last century comes in just short of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. The difference between the two is that there’s not a single long-winded passage in Sayles. And there’s more packed into it per square inch even than McMurtry’s multi-character, multi-plotted cattle drive novel.Like Lonesome Dove, I read this ...
  • Oriana
    Wow you guys. This one, too, is going to blow your minds. It's tough not to compare it to The Instructions , the last 1000-plus-pager from the inimitable McSweeney's, but such a comparison would be meaningless, as I think it would be pretty difficult for these books to be more different. It's still way pre-pub, so I don't want to spill any secrets, but obvs this book, like everything McSwy's does, is phenomenal. Get it on them to-read shelves al...
  • Peter
    This is an unforgettable book about America at the turn of the last century. Skillfully told and breathtaking in its scope.I must say that the first half was totally engrossing, but it got a little tougher in the second half. I think whole chapters could have been left out. And yet the breadth of it is amazing, it's like you are soaking in the era. Gold rush, Spanish American War, yellow journalism, Cuba, the philippines, African American culture...
  • James Murphy
    A Moment in the Sun is a big sprawl of a novel at 955 pages focusing on s sliver of time at the turn of the last century, the era of the Spanish American War. At the heart of his story is American imperialism and racism. It seems to be his intention to illuminate American traits of the past we'd easily recognize as those of today. For the period around 1900 was the seedtime of American imperialism, manifest destiny spilled over the west coast int...
  • Chris Blocker
    A Moment in the Sun is an epic novel that covers much ground. I agree with my friend David for his notion that “Tolstoy himself would have to be proud of Sayles for this one.” A Moment in the Sun certainly mirrors War and Peace in scope and subject (although I'm sure Tolstoy—especially in his later years—would have grave objections with some of the vulgarity in Sayles' work).AMitS brings to fiction one of the more interesting time perio...
  • Tim
    "A Moment in the Sun" takes a fascinating, often spectacular, low-angle look at the underbelly of America in its growing pains as it heaves and flexes into the 20th century.There. I did it. A first paragraph without mentioning author John Sayles' other, more well-known, job. But now it can't be helped. For those who didn't know, Sayles is a top-notch movie writer/director, producing such fine films as "Eight Men Out" (my favorite), "Matewan," "Lo...
  • Martin
    You say: Epic. I say: Endless.You say: Sweeping. I say: Scattered.You say: Rollicking. I say: the Opposite of Rollicking.I can't explain how excited I was to find a copy of John Sayles' acclaimed new novel at a book fair in downtown Chicago for a reasonable price. It is both a huge and beautiful book -- kudos to the reliable McSweeney's Publishing house. (Although just about everybody who saw me reading had the same quip: "is that a Bible?") It's...
  • Harry Heitman
    A great sweeping look at the beginnings of the 20th century through a broad array of characters.Rousing, robust historical fiction that puts you in the center of some of the great events in North America. Not only is John Sayles a great movie director, he is a talented writer.
  • Michael
    I had this rated a four (because I never give anything a five) but changed to five because I don't like when people criticize John Sayles and I didn't want to do it. He essentially does exactly what I want in popular history and tries to appeal to the mainstream at the same time, and people just look for excuses not to read him or go see his movies. Yes the book does have many characters and plot lines, but you never get lost. It is long, but fun...
  • Richard
    I really admired this book. The topic, late 19th/early 20th century US, is fascinating and highly relevant today's political and cultural landscape and it needs to be examined more closely: the Spanish American War and the resulting occupation of the Phillipines, white southerners re-taking control of government after Reconstruction in an attempt to push back nascent African American political power, labor organization and rebellion as a response...
  • Sundry
    Wow, what a great read. I heard about this book when John Sayles interviewed by Michael Silverblatt on his KCRW show Bookworm, and was instantly intrigued. http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/bw/b...Sayles talked about the Spanish American War being one that our history books say we won, but which we don't brag about much...which made him suspicious. Sayles introduces a lot of characters in the first chapters, and you have to just let it flow over y...
  • Shawn Towner
    A book that I've often seen described as Pynchonesque, but I think it's more like Dickens: lots of characters, lots of digressing subplots, and a sympathetic view of the lower classes and downtrodden. Unfortunately, not all of the characters and subplots are really all that interesting. I couldn't stand the Philippines parts, which is a shame because a trio of most enjoyable characters were crammed into the plot, rather than being able to operate...
  • John Strohm
    Sayles did too much research for this book. Then he felt compelled to work all of it into a single novel; the result being that it's totally unwieldy. Sayles chooses to spin several concurrent plot threads which only loosely intertwine with each other. As one story gets interesting, you're shuffled off to another part of the world and a completely different cast of characters who you don't care about, or maybe can't remember since it's been 80 pa...
  • Anoosh Jorjorian
    My recurring question as I read this whale of a novel was, how many research assistants did Sayles hire? This book is epic, and the only other novel I've read equal in its scope is Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. Sayles has written a bildungsroman for the U.S. that encompasses the major themes: capitalism, war, imperialism, racism. Nevertheless, he renders these themes effectively at the level of his characters, caught in the cogs of history. His e...
  • Kimberly
    MANY THANKS to the fine proprietors of ATOMIC BOOKS, Benn and Rachel & their employers, who were kind enough to ask John Sayles to sign a personlazied, signed copy of this book for me, when I called & requested that because I was ill that night & could not make it to the Reading and Signing. Thanks guys and gals! :-)
  • Stacia
    A modern American epic.
  • Linda
    Don't read this book if you are an impatient person. It's nearly 1,000 pages long and not with the "big" print of books by Follett or the Game of Thrones. But it's a good book. The only reason I didn't rate it higher is that it got tiresome after a while.Unlike my favorite Mallon and more like most historical fiction, these characters are actually experiencing historical events: the invasion of Cuba and the Philippines, the racist coup in Wilming...
  • Eric Malone
    Set at the turn of the 20th-century, A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles weighs in a hefty 950 pages. One might think a historical novel of this length might be a little tedious to read, but this is not the case with A Moment in the Sun. Sayles' writing is clear and engrossing, and you can certainly tell this novel is written by someone skilled with writing film screenplays.That is not to say that this is a light, feel-good read; the characters ar...
  • Anandi
    I learned a lot about the Spanish American war, I appreciated the author's glee in using his copious research into period slang, I grew to care for the characters... but I also had some issues with content. The thing is, I get that pretty much the point of this book is that it's about the racism of the period, and about how racism is bad. And I get that the inclusion of nuanced intelligent characters of color and ignorant white people was meant t...
  • Ryan Mishap
    Despite the girth, this is not dense nor unruly and unmanageable, but a magnificent foray into the past through the lives of multiple characters across the county and the world. Whether the prose is beautiful, arch, stark, bemused, insistent, off-hand, or particularly descriptive, it was nearly always captivating.The United States is exposed in all its side-show glory; a nation of hucksters,thieves, boasters, racists, jingoists, and psychopaths w...
  • Carol
    My rating for this book went from a 4 for fine writing, to a 3 for holding my interest, to a 2 for getting bored, so I settled on an average of 3 stars. First off, I must admit, I have a hard time with 900+ page books. I am over-eager to learn the conclusion quickly; I also like page-turners, that make me want to find out what happens next. This book rarely had me anxious to see what the next page brought. I had hoped to learn more about the Span...
  • Judy
    This, dear readers, is how you write historical fiction. John Sayles brings every bit of the extraordinary talent he exhibits in his filmmaking (Lone Star, Eight Men Out) to this epic novel about the world at the turn of the 20th century. In particular he focuses on the Spanish-American War in Cuba, the Phillipine-American War, and the Wilmington (N.C.) Insurrection of 1898, but along the way he touches on the Yukon Gold Rush, the Boxer Rebellion...
  • Laura C.
    On a recent episode of Bravo’s “The Next Great Artist”, the participants were challenged to take a piece of thrift store kitsch and turn it into something remarkable. One artist began with a picture of a southern belle with real hair. He remade it into a commentary on the bondage of beauty, race, and money. In the end, he was voted off. The judges said it was an important topic, but that his work brought no new insights to the table. This c...
  • Nick
    So after renewing this book twice at the library, I had to return it after finishing only a bit over half. It's great, sprawling in every sense-language, characters, geography. I can't help but think it a little overwrought in some places. Some characters added only for color (and maybe to show off Sayles regional colloquial chops). Perhaps this shortcoming should should fall on the editor. All in all, this book coupled with We, The Drowned which...