More Reviews of Emily, Alone

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Stewart O’Nan’s ‘Emily, Alone’ returns to Maxwell clan, Pittsburgh

“Emily, Alone” is Stewart O”Nan’s first novel as a Pittsburgh resident. Sure, the Point Breeze native has previously published 12 books, including short-story collections and novels such as “Snow Angels” and “A Prayer for the Dying.”

But “Emily, Alone” is the first book O’Nan has published since he moved to Regent Square from Connecticut two years ago. So it’s fitting the book features the city, especially the neighborhoods of Highland Park and Regent Square.

“I’ve always wanted to write about Pittsburgh more,” he says. “I’ve written stories, and there was ‘Everyday People’ (his 1998 novel set in East Liberty), but I wanted to do a little bit more with this and take on territory that is totally foreign to me, which is old age and being an older woman. So I thought it would be good to be grounded in something I know, which is Pittsburgh.”


The Denver Post

O’Nan brings it all together in “Emily, Alone”

Stewart O’Nan is a master of introspection. And while “Emily, Alone” is a chapter added to 2002’s “Wish You Were Here,” a reader need not be familiar with the earlier novel to be enriched by this one.

The Emily of the title is the matriarch introduced in the earlier novel who, at that point, was wrapping up affairs after her husband’s death. “Emily, Alone” takes place several years later, as she has settled into widowhood. Her children, absorbed by their challenges, don’t call or visit as often as she’d like. Most of her time is spent by herself. When she gets out, it is usually in the company of her longtime compatriot, Arlene. She has lived past most of her friends.


The Miami Herald

Emily copes with disappointment, old age

Next to nothing happens in Stewart O’Nan’s Emily, Alone. The 80-year-old title character goes out for breakfast once a week with her elderly sister-in-law. She works at crossword puzzles; tends to her beloved old dog, Rufus; reads and listens to classical music on the radio. Oh, and she buys a car. That’s about all. But this is an O’Nan novel, and it’s as riveting as a fast-paced thriller, albeit one that delves into the life and psyche of an elderly woman.


Writer Stewart O’Nan took roundabout route to successful writing career

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Writer Stewart O’Nan is sitting at D’s SixPax and Dogz in Regent Square, talking about his life, his work and returning to Pittsburgh last year after a 30-year absence.

He talks about his family — his father, an engineer; his mother, a schoolteacher — and how they set examples for him, and of his wife, Trudy, a Butler native and social worker, who convinced him to quit his career as an aerospace engineer to study writing. He speaks of the proverbial Pittsburgh work ethic and how that has stood him well in all of his endeavors.

Then the conversation turns to former jobs.

“I was a dishwasher,” he says. “Every time I do a dish, a record falls. … I never got to be waitstaff, I never got to be a busboy. I was always a dishwasher, and that’s where you get to hear the best stories.”

Small wonder then that O’Nan, 49, is one of the best storytellers in contemporary fiction. His novels and stories often spotlight characters who are ignored by the mainstream, though they often are in plain sight.