Jennifer Egan Best Books 📚

Jennifer Egan has published a few books, but a good number of them – including ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ and ‘Manhattan Beach’ – belong to the A-List book category, with both bagging several prestigious book awards shortly after their release.

Jennifer Egan

American Novelist

Egan’s writing style is dazzling, stimulating, and electrifying, but more importantly, it is unique, and gripping, and comes in short, independent essays which the community loves so much. ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ is by far her most populous work, but others are as good – with some even featuring characters from Goon Squad. This article has analyzed the best books written by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad

A visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan Book Cover
A Visit from the Goon Squad Digital Art

A Visit from the Goon Squad’ is Jennifer Egan’s best-known work – with all due respect to her other works. The book may not be the most commercially successful for Egan but it was certainly the one that announced her to the world, particularly after the Pulitzer community decided to slap its highly coveted prize on it. However, the book fired on to win other awards such as the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

Along with garnering prestigious awards, reviews from critics were up in the book’s favor, with editors from top publishers brandishing the creative quality and innovativeness Egan set in play throughout the narrative. 

Jennifer Egan published ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ in the year 2010, rolling out a twisted, almost genre-less tale of the passage of time across a long list of characters – some from different generations. A disturbed Sasha Blake, who struggles with kleptomania and unfulfilled dreams, works for Bennie Salazar, an advancing music executive. The story seems to revolve around the struggles, failures, and successes of their past and current life as it connects with other fascinating characters with whom they cross paths.

The Candy House

Released in 2022, ‘The Candy House’ by Jennifer Egan is the latest overachieving book added to the long list of the author’s body of work. Aside from being a New York Times Bestseller, ‘The Candy House’ has Lao been recognized by the BBC, Vogue, Oprah Daily, Vanity Fair, and The Guardian among others in their list of 10 best books of 2022. 

The book follows a thoughtful, highly effervescent narrative where Egan introduces a highly controversial invention ‘Own Your Unconscious’ created by Mandala, a company founded by one of her frontal big tech entrepreneur characters, Bix Bouton. Bix’s invention sets the tone and interaction for several other characters throughout a book that metaphorically also covers the themes of love, human connection, and freedom.

Manhattan Beach

Probably the most decorated of Jennifer Egan’s books, ‘Manhattan Beach’ has received a long list of global book awards and recognitions since its publication in 2017. 

Among these awards includes: the Andrew Carnegie Medal, the New York City Book Award, a finalist for the National Book Award, and the top ten books of 2017 for Vogue, Kirkus Review, Bustle, The Guardian, Southern Living the list goes on. The book also received some fantastic praise from the best book critics around. 

In ‘Manhattan Beach,’ Egan headlines Anna Kerrigan, a teenager who is introduced to the affluent Dexter by her father in the hope of lifting their family from imminent poverty and wretchedness. Anna – who is fascinated by the sea – finds more reason to be close to it. It’s not long before her father goes missing and a conspiracy to it traces back to her boss, Dexter. 

With war breaking out and men giving up their regular jobs to a place on the battlefront, Anna fills in for a diver (first female of her kind) in her Naval Yard base, repairing damaged American warships. Her experiences from here on mature her more as a person – and provides her with an insight into the disappearance of her father. 

The Keep

Another terrifically great book from Jennifer Egan, ‘The Keep’ exploits a mixture of horror and romance to give readership an exciting, positively terrifying story of family and survival. 

It became a national bestseller upon release and attracted a long list of editorial compliments from top outlets like The Atlantic, The Washington Post, People Magazine, and USA Today among other news publishers. 

‘The Keep’ tells the story of two cousins impacted by an event long buried in the past. Rejoined again in Europe by chance – and with a pending remodeling task on a strange castle at hand, the pair are forced to bear the repercussions of deeds done many years ago.

The Invisible Circus

The Invisible Circus’ is Egan’s first novel published in 1994. The book received praise from critics and popular review news outlets, who noted the book’s quality in imagination and innovativeness, applauding the author for her professional execution of the story despite her being a writing newbie at the time. 

The plot follows Phoebe O’Connor who adventures to far Europe in search of the truth leading to her the death of her sister, Faith, who seems to have killed herself. ‘The Invisible Circle’ is a tale of family affairs with a touch of political twists and turns, exactly all the ingredients that spice up the book for an exciting experience for the readers.

Look at Me

Egan’s second novel published in 2001, ‘Look at Me’ is a hugely respected work of literature and this shows in how it made it as a finalist for the prestigious National Book Award prize. As always, top media outlets like The New York Times and The New Yorker endowed the work with positive reviews for its unorthodoxy, imagination, and comic relief.

The book – which took Jennifer Egan six whole years to write – follows a sad, captivating story of a fashion model by the name Charlotte Swenson whose bodily beauty is threatened by a horrible car crash that leaves her unrecognizable. However, a cosmetic fixing nearly restored her beauty but not without a catch.

Aside from Charlotte, ‘Look at Me’ has several other main characters with their own unique stories, and as the reader goes further into the pages, they discover how entwined and similar the lives of these characters are. 

Why China?

Taken from the Emerald City short story collections of Jennifer Egan, ‘Why China?’ tells the story of Sam who seems to be in deep legal trouble with their employer – due to a life of financial bad decisions which is catching up with him. Without planning, Sam moves his family to China perhaps to circumvent his occupational ordeals and maybe carry on in a country with a low cost of living. Little does he know that he’s about to find out the one person he loathes whose guidance led him into the financial mess he’s in is skulking around in the same city.


How many books has Jennifer Egan written?

Jennifer Egan has written seven book series since igniting her literary career in 1994 with her opener ‘The Invisible Circus.’ Asides from her series, the author has a number of short stories and has written award-winning journalistic pieces for famous publications like The New York Times. 

Which book did Egan first write?

Egan first rolled out ‘The Invisible Circus’ which becomes her first novel – capping her already acclaimed journalistic success at the time.

What book is Egan most acclaimed for?

Egan has several books that are proud and award-winning, but the book she gets the lost acclaim for is ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ – a book which won her the highly sought Pulitzer award. 

Which book by Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer?

Egan’s literary innovative book ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ won the Pulitzer Award in 2011, a year after it was originally published. 

Is ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ the greatest book of the last two decades?

Goon Squad’ is certainly one of the greatest books of the last two decades: Time Magazine’s inclusion of the book in its top 10 best fiction of the 2010s further reaffirms this argument.

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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