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The Sixteenth of June

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  300 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
A finely observed debut novel that paints a funny, moving, truthful portrayal of a family at a turning point: “A triumph” (Helen Schulman, New York Times bestselling author of This Beautiful Life).

Leopold Portman dreams of settling down in Philadelphia’s bucolic suburbs and starting a family with his fiancée, Nora. A talented singer in mourning for her mother, Nora has aba
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Scribner
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Rebecca Foster
Maya Lang’s playful and exquisitely accomplished debut novel, set on the centenary of the original Bloomsday*, transplants many of Ulysses’s characters and set pieces to near-contemporary Philadelphia. Don’t fret, though – even if, like me, you haven’t yet read Ulysses, you’ll have absolutely no trouble following the thread of Lang’s novel. (Though if you wish to follow along and spot the parallels, just pull up any online summary of Ulysses, and have open this page on Lang’s website listing her ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 23, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Portman family is a well to do family, a family that in the words of their son Stephen likes to sweep things under the rug, not having to deal with things that do not fit into the view of their lifestyle. June 16th, 2004 is big day for this family, it is the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday, and it is the funeral of the Portman grandmother. Every year Michael has a Bloomsday party and has no intention of cancelling this years.

It is a story of a love triangle between Stephen and Leopold the Por
Stephanie Sanders
Spoiler-free summary:
Taking place in a single day, Maya Lang's debut novel, The Sixteenth of June explores the relationship between the members of a wealthy family in Philadelphia. Leo is the simplistic, humble son who yearns for "normalcy," which, to him is a life away from the gilt and glamour of his mother's world. Stephen, an academic lost inside literary theory and his own theories about himself, loves Leo's fiance Nora, a talented opera singer, with a fierce platonic urgency and met her lo
Sep 10, 2016 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was able to read an advance copy of this novel, and I gave it a blurb. Here is what I said:

“The Sixteenth of June celebrates people who don’t easily fit our culture’s definitions of happiness and success, who have to fight their way to a sense of self they can live with. Combining the narrative sensibility of a nineteenth-century novel with a contemporary snap and verve, Maya Lang’s debut asks probing questions about friendship and love. The final scene is one of the most lovely I’ve read in r
Ross McMeekin
Jul 04, 2014 Ross McMeekin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the privilege of seeing Maya Lang’s reading at Elliot Bay Bookstore, and in speaking about the book I remember her mentioning that the three central characters—Nora, Leo, and Stephen—were struggling to find a way to navigate through the expectations put upon their lives by their families and friends (as well as culture, class, and society etc.). They were trying to not just heed what they felt they should do, but what they truly wanted to do.

It’s an interesting (and difficult) time of lif
Jul 28, 2014 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Sixteenth of June builds quietly, beautifully, and then—-as moving as any Joycean epiphany—-astonishes you. When I reached the last page, I felt deeply stirred, because although it pays tribute to Joyce's masterwork, Ulysses, it refuses to become simply a contemporary shadow of it. It's the author's brilliant insights into her characters' individual struggles that makes it compelling, not just its skillful allusiveness. Yes, it serves as a sort of conversation with Joyce's work, but a conver ...more
Moving and assured, intimate, reverent and inventive. Who would ever imagine this is a first novel? Brava, Maya. Brava. Blog review is finally up, just in time for the end of Bloomsday:
Thor Kristensen
Aug 18, 2014 Thor Kristensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read a number of books by young(ish) American female authors lately and generally been a bit disappointed. Somehow I have felt a distance towards the content, the books have felt a bit inauthentic; my willing suspension of disbelief has been unwilling, I haven’t been able to rid myself of the feeling that I’m reading a construed novel and the characters have not stood forward as people of flesh and blood and all that. (or it may just be the fact that I’m a middle-age(ish) European male, a ...more
This was rather a wonderful novel. It begins with a dedication to all of those readers (including me) who never made it through Ulysses, and that immediately drew me in rather than deterring me for fear of not getting any allusions to that most iconic of novels (which incidentally has been staring at me from its position on my bookshelf, these past 15 years, ahem).

It is an intertextual novel of sorts, kind of like Michael Cunningham’s The Hours and its deliberate references to Virginia Woolf’s
Peter Schmidt
Jul 11, 2014 Peter Schmidt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this novel, and not just because I know the author. It's that very rare thing--both a successful satire (the narrator is irreverent & witty) and a book that in the end is tender (as most satires are not) towards most all of its characters, loving their flaws as well as their strengths.

The heart of the book is the ever-shifting, fascinating relationship between 2 brothers, Leo and Stephen, and a young woman named Nora. This triangle is somewhat similar to that of another novel
Sep 27, 2014 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an accomplished first novel. I’ll be looking for new work by Maya Lang.

I am one of the readers to whom she dedicates her book—have not yet moved beyond the first chapter of Ulysses—so her “re-Joyce” allusions will have escaped me, except for Stephen shaving in the opening scene, which I recognized with delight.

The novel moves too slowly for me in the first half—so much ruminating—but picks up in the second. It’s as if Lang is a reticent gardener who doesn’t want her characters to mature t
Aug 17, 2014 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare books that I finished and immediately started again. Initially, I found it slow and wasn't sure how much I cared about the three main characters -- Nora, Leo and Stephen. But, as the story progressed I became hugely invested in their lives and was so enthralled by them that I had to reread the book to absorb every nuance of their interactions.

Brilliantly evoked compelling lives that we come to know during the course of just one day -- June 16th, 2004. First there is a f
Sep 09, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to modern fiction, I always enjoy books that have strong character development and explore interpersonal relationships. Maya Lang's "The Sixteenth of June" has both in spades and being a lover of literature, I couldn't help but be intrigued by her integrating aspects of Joyce's Ulysses into the work. It had to be extremely challenging to weave such a complex story into the span of one day's time, but Lang does it beautifully without making the narrative seemed forced or constrained ...more
Aug 31, 2016 William rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014
What a book. Poignant and evocative, and at the end really tender and wonderful. There's not many authors I've encountered who can bring their characters to full and complete life, virtues and vices in balance with the story, but Maya Lang has done so. It was so very odd to find myself and family in bits and pieces of these characters. Their tribulations especially so after having been through a funeral of my own somewhat recently. Highly recommended.
Cathy Ryan
Aug 12, 2015 Cathy Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

The Sixteenth of June relates to James Joyce’s Ulysses and reflects parts of the plot and also characters’ names. I have no idea how the story pertains to Joyce’s novel, not having read it, so the implications passed me by but that fact didn’t affect my following the story or my enjoyment of the audio. Maya Lang’s dedication prior to the beginning of the story is ‘For all the readers who never made it through Ulysses (or haven’t wanted to try)’

Just as an aside (thanks to Google!)…James
The association with Ulysses almost turned me away from Maya Lang’s debut novel The Sixteenth of June. I feared it would be one of those unbearably pretentious books that tries too hard to be clever and literary, like The Marriage Plot. Instead it’s a thoughtful, straightforward exploration of love, friendship, and family. I’m delighted that I received a copy to review.

Like Ulysses, the events in The Sixteenth of June unfold over the course of one day. We follow the main characters, a trio in th
Source: I received this ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Today is the last day of school for me - as a teacher, that is. June is well on its way...the sun is shining, our pool is open, the grill has been firing, and I have already snuggled a book on the porch swing. The Sixteenth of June, by Maya Lang to be exact.

I love books tied to other famous stories. The dedication of The Sixteenth of June reads, "For all the readers who never made it through Ulysses (or haven't wanted t
What a moody book! Not sure if I liked this. The whole time I was reading I felt like I was forcing myself to move forward. One more chapter, I'd tell myself. And not in that good way when one normally says, "just one more page. One more chapter." It wasn't bad but I really didn't care about the characters one way or the other. The storyline was weak, in my opinion, and each of the three charcaters did so much thinking between the pages. It actually became tedious. Did I have to know each and ev ...more
Oct 11, 2014 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

This is a book that needs to be savored. It took me weeks to read, not simply because school and work got in the way but because sitting down and reading a few pages at a time, seemed sacrilegious. Maya Lang writes so well and creates such an emotive atmosphere that you need to immerse yourself in each chapter to fully engage with it.

Apparently it is based in part on 'Ulysses'; having never read the book and knowing very little of what it is about, I can't comment how similar it was or
Ivy Pool
May 02, 2014 Ivy Pool rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so thrilled to give the highest recommendation to this beautiful, compact novel and to its skillful author, Maya Lang. The novel takes place in a single day, which means that the plot moves slowly and deliberately. That said, I never found myself wanting to skip ahead because I was engrossed with the characters in the novel. It is rare to read a book that includes so many well-formed and fully-realized characters. Nora, Stephen, and Leo compete for your affection, sympathy, and understandin ...more
Aug 27, 2014 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
This book is an enjoyable drift through a single day that also presents a revealing cross-section of life for each of the characters within. The quality of the writing is good and the characters are well drawn.

It was definitely an enjoyable read but it hit too close to home for me on a few issues; I have also lost a parent and suffered from a similar condition to Nora's trichotillomania so some of Nora's motivations seemed questionable. Nora's worry about blending into the upper-crust world of
Feb 08, 2014 Jude rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing! I was fortunate to read an advance copy of this book. My interest was piqued because the story is set in the Philadelphia area. I loved everything about it and had to force myself to slow down and not read it all in one day. This is the kind of story that sinks into your subconscious and makes you want to rush home to read more. The characters were so real and believable that it was almost uncomfortable to read at times. It's always fun to read about people who you recogniz ...more
Jun 11, 2014 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story revolves around two wealthy brothers, Leo and Stephen and Leo's girlfriend Nora. The book dwells mainly on the Sixteenth of June, Bloomsday, where the family is having the funeral of the men's grandmother and their annual party to celebrate Bloomsday. The family is very dysfunctional and Nora picks this day to decide if she really wants to marry Leo. They all have there problems and the parents seem to be the root of the tension. I liked the characters and the Philadelphia setting.
Jul 29, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The thing about this book is that the characters host a Bloomsday party at their house, approximately three and a half blocks from where the Rosenbach Bloomsday party is held every year in real life. In fact, upon reading the plot summary, I got excited at the prospect of a book taking place at one of my favorite museums in Philadelphia (seriously, I tried to see if they would host my wedding -- no dice).

Still, I liked this book quite a bit and I'll write a full review soon.
Jessica Weil
This had moments of greatness, and I have a feeling I'm being a bit too hard on it, but for me it just wasn't darkly funny enough, insightful enough, consuming enough to elevate it to the same level as many of the other dysfunctional family novels that I've enjoyed over the years. To me, the characters felt under-developed and cliche for most of the story, yet it built up to a surprisingly satisfying ending that was better than I expected.
Cheryl Anne
Similar to The Marriage Plot(young, educated city-dwellers afflicted with modern anxieties and disorders) but with sympathetic characters.

I'm with Elwood P. Dowd's sister, Myrtle: “Why don’t they get out and take walks in the fresh air?”

A decent read but I'd say more for fans of Ulysses. There is some clever writing as the author changes styles and the focus of each chapter in the same way that Joyce does in Ulysses. Two brothers named Leo and Stephen, a mother named June, and Leo's fiance and Stephen's best friend, named Nora. What's not to like for the Ulysses fan? It is a bit light, but still entertaining.
Fel (BookHaze)
Took a while to get into. I wouldn't normally have picked this type of book up if I hadn't received it from the publisher. Although the plot was slow, the characterization was able to be portrayed throughout the book very nicely.
Jun 21, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfect early summer book. The characters are beautifully drawn, complex and sympathetic, some of them in unexpected ways. As in Ulysses, the action here takes place in one day, but the story never feels rushed or compromised. I look forward to reading more of Maya Lang's work.
Bill Wolfe
Jul 11, 2014 Bill Wolfe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please see my review on my blog, Read Her Like an Open Book.
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Maya Lang is the author of The Sixteenth of June (Scribner), long listed for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. She received the 2012 Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholarship in Fiction, and was a Finalist for Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers.

The daughter of Indian immigrant parents, Lang holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. Her short fiction has appeared, most r
More about Maya Lang...

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