• "An epic novel...about a generation finding its way...Rakoff has brilliantly captured the mood of the era and the energy of a city."

    —Bookpage

Praise

A WHSmith “Fresh Talent Summer 2016” selection

“An impressively organised and psychologically astute account of the trials of growing up: finding a home, a job that means something and a partner.”
The Guardian

“It feels simultaneously contemporary, with its references to Cat Power, and its spot-on descriptions of Brooklyn at the turn of the twenty-first century, and also deliciously old-fashioned, as sprawling as Middlemarch and as readable as The Age of Innocence.”
— Edan Lepucki for The Millions

“Rakoff has a sharp eye for cultural detail, and she provides a finely drawn illustration of New York at the turn of the century.”
The Sydney Morning Herald

“As the group traverses life – jobs, marriage, friendship, family and the mundane – from 1998 to 2004, you feel like you’ve known some of these people, are like them, lived these instances.”
 Hindustan Times

“A complex and ambitious debut novel . . . Rakoff’s ability to conjure the atmosphere and sensory experience of New York is one of A Fortunate Age’s great strengths, and readers . . . will love the rich array of cultural references and sense of place that give the novel its authenticity as a work of social realism.”
— INDAILY: Adelaide Independent News

“[Characters] observed so keenly and drawn so finely that reading about them almost felt like spending time as part of their group . . . a hugely absorbing read.”
New Zealand Herald

“A coming-of-age tale that perfectly captures the uncertainties of being a newcomer in a big city.”
Good Housekeeping (UK): 17 Brilliant Beach Reads

“Gently funny, Rakoff’s writing is perceptive – especially with pop-culture references – and she obviously cares about her characters. Lightweight yet strangely worthy.”
Qantas Airlines (AU): Travel Insider

“Highly relatable stuff, and the unexpected ending will have you in bits.”
Glamour (UK): Hottest Summer Reads

“Rakoff illustrates perfectly that early adult feeling of indecision, of feeling paralysed by possibilities that we don’t know how to reach.”
— The Independent

“[Rakoff] assures her place on the East Coast literary scene with this artful, engaging novel.”
Daily Mail

A Fortunate Age, Joanna Smith Rakoff’s sweeping debut novel about 20-something Oberlin grads living in New York City, may turn out to be the long-awaited book that perfectly captures the ’90s, that time of social and financial excess that set the stage for the current economic collapse.”
— Laurel Maury for NPR.org

“Rakoff explores the group’s realisation that good times can’t last forever . . . Ordinary wins over extraordinary, commonplace marriage with children is prized over singles striving for success, which is perhaps what life is about, over-the-top wacky one minute, humdrum the next.”
The Sydney Morning Herald

“Perfectly captures the dreams of a generation and can be translated to any twenty-something scared of the responsibilities of life and learning to cope in a very changing world.”
Careergirldaily.com: 10 Top Books To Beat Your Vacation Blues

“If you’ve read Mary McCarthy’s iconic The Group, this is for you – it’ll also appeal to anyone hankering after Sex and the City. It follows a group of six friends and graduates as they bumble around Brooklyn: falling in love, pursuing lofty career ideals, finding – and losing – themselves. Gilded children of a ‘fortunate age’ they may be, but they are not immune to disappointment – or tragedy – as their wide-eyed ambition and innocence gives way to something more world-weary.”
Wear and Where Summer Reading List

“An epic novel…about a generation finding its way…Rakoff has brilliantly captured the mood of the era and the energy of a city.”
— Bookpage

“An expansive and elegantly executed time capsule of the dot.com generation finding its feet during a critical moment in history.”
— New York Daily News

“The attempt of each generation to carve out a bearable adult identity commands irresistible interest…Smith Rakoff’s sensitive portrayal of one of her strongest characters…shows how well she knows the present-day truths.”
— The New York Times Book Review

“But while Rakoff catalogues a group of people who have been furiously and self-consciously dissecting their own for a while now, she does it with such grace, and from just the right amused distance, that it seems wholly her own and — dare I say it? — original.”
— Amy Benfer, barnesandnoblereview.com

“In depicting the lives of these 20-somethings, her novel attempts to capture the hopes, often-grating sense of entitlement, progressive politics, hypocrisy, and everyday disappointments of a generation. Rakoff also offers a detailed portrait of the city during a fascinating time, the days before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.”
— Chuck Leddy for The Boston Globe

“Rakoff, who has contributed her keen commentary on contemporary society to The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Vogue and The Oprah Magazine, has written a modern-day version of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, or an intellectual Sex and the City. Acknowledging her debts to Sylvia Plath, Dawn Powell, and Mary McCarthy, Rakoff brilliantly captures and tracks the lives of a group of Oberlin graduates in New York around the turn of the 21st century, as they pursue their dreams, marry, and start families, crossing the boundary into ‘the difficulties and practicalities of adulthood.’”
— Sophie Powell for The Rumpus

“The process that changes your reaction will be familiar to anyone who’s ever been seduced by New York (a sordid, delectable experience that can happen repeatedly throughout your life — and against which there is no known vaccine): gradually, grudgingly, you find yourself no longer loathing these people who surround you — in the case of A Fortunate Age, shallow, successful actor Tal, nebbishy Dave, callow and annoying Emily, and hapless sub-editor (and focal character) Sadie. It’s a weird alchemy: you aren’t any less discriminating in your tastes, and they aren’t any less flighty and irritating, and yet you find yourself caught up in the drama of their lives, conversant in the molehills out of which they make mountains, and somehow genuinely caring about it all.”
— Steve Donoghue for Open Letters Monthly

A Fortunate Age leaves a lasting impression. It’s a credit to Ms. Rakoff’s sharp writing that you will wonder what happens to her creations as we edge warily and further into the 21st century.”
— Sara Vilkomerson for The New York Observer

“Rakoff is smart enough to realize that the romantic view of New York derives from cliche, self-love and an angst to be au courant with trends that are often media-driven trivia. Hers is a mostly mordant record of the times, yet she, like McCarthy, can’t deny the romance of “making it,” with a debut novel, in the city that never sleeps.”
— Jeffrey Burke for Bloomberg News

“An entertaining, updated look at artistic-minded young people progressing toward adulthood in New York. As they experience marriage, children, dot-com busts, infidelities, alcohol abuse, personal tragedies, professional successes, and other common experiences of twentysomethings in the mid-1990s, Rakoff objectively and deftly chronicles all of it.”
— Library Journal (This text refers to the Kindle Edition.)

“Funny, compassionate and observant…the story is almost compulsively readable…Rakoff endows each [character] with a generous intelligence.”
— The Los Angeles Times

“Ms. Rakoff’s prose is funny and acerbic, and she gets many details…incredibly right…A Fortunate Age leaves a lasting impression.”
— The New York Observer

“[A] richly drawn narrative…Smith Rakoff’s social commentary remains both engaging and satisfying in its breadth and depth…expansive and elegantly executed.”
— New York Daily News

“The liberal-arts grads coming of age in Smith Rakoff’s…New York City are indeed a fortunate bunch…the story lines…are compellingly drawn.”
— Entertainment Weekly

“[A] delight…Writing with seamless transparency and intelligence, Rakoff has a light and witty touch…a dead-on psychological and social page-turner.”
— Publishers Weekly Galley Talk

“Rakoff’s mesmerizing debut opens with a wedding and closes with a funeral. In between, the novel provides a pitch perfect portrait of the generation that came of age in the 1990s. If this smart, thoroughly absorbing novel recalls The Group, it also recalls the seminal work of Anne Beattie in the seventies and Jay McInerney in the eighties. Like them, Rakoff captures a certain time and place with heartbreaking clarity.”
— Booklist

“A wonderful, funny and spot-on portrait of my clumsy generation that brings to mind such hallmarks as Mary McCarthy’s The Group, Jay McInerney’s Brightness Falls, and Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children.”
— Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love StoryAbsurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook

“Joanna Smith Rakoff has cast a brilliant and glittering spell with this fierce debut. Her social observations are not only spot-on but often wickedly funny…She has captured both a generation and a landscape, and I’m still marveling at how she managed to pull off this page-turning cocktail of intelligence and desire.”
— Joanna Hershon, author of The German Bride