Alice Mattison | Conscience


From the author of New Yorker, PEN/O. Henry Prize, Pushcart Prize, Ploughshares, and Best American short stories; numerous New York Times Notable novels and collections; and the writing guide THE KITE AND THE STRING, comes an unforgettable story of former Vietnam War protesters and the tangled histories of activism, service, race and gender politics, which come to bear on their present day.

“Mattison is a charmer. Her characters bask in the sunshine of her affectionate scrutiny.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Mattison’s observations are so minutely compelling that each one feels like a shiny object, once lost but found unexpectedly.” —The New Yorker

CONSCIENCE opens in the bedroom of Olive Grossman and her husband Griff, a couple whose lives are haunted by the death of their longtime friend, Helen Weinstein, in a violent political protest in 1975. As the novel weaves between the 1960s and the present, conflict, tragedy, and friendship find their way into the precarious balance of the couple’s home.

Praised by the New York Times Book Review as “a generous, empathetic writer” of “ferocious insight,” Alice Mattison has an unparalleled gift for storytelling and for creating rich, multidimensional characters—the kind one might find in the novels of Anne Tyler, Jane Smiley, or Michael Chabon. In CONSCIENCE, Mattison paints the nuanced relationships between characters with her signature wit and precision, elegantly weaving together past and present, the political and the personal.