East City Bookshop welcomes author Michael Frank to the shop with his latest novel, What is Missing, in conversation with writer Sarah Boxer.
About What is Missing:
One of the hardest, most heartbreaking experiences that can come at a woman as she eases out of her thirties is to discover that she cannot have a baby. As What Is Missing opens, Costanza Ansaldo, a half-Italian and half-American translator, has traveled to Italy one summer to restart her life a year after the death of her husband, the famous writer Morton Sarnoff. She has made an uncertain peace with both her grief and, she believes, her childlessness. Visiting the pensione in Florence where she spent many happy times as a girl, she meets Andrew Weissman, an acutely sensitive seventeen-year-old, and soon afterward his father, Henry Weissman, a charismatic New York physician who specializes in—as it happens—reproductive medicine.
The three come together again that fall in New York, where the love triangle that develops among them turns and tightens as the novel explores what it means to be a father, a son, and a potential mother. Along the way Costanza, Henry, and Andrew are each compelled to face—and face down—what is missing in their lives: a baby, a secret truth, a dead husband and a distant brother, and the haunting legacy of family that perished in the Holocaust.
Called “masterful and psychologically acute” by novelist Julie Orringer and “trenchant…intricate and dynamic” by Publishers Weekly, What Is Missing is a deeply moving novel that, like the author’s prizewinning memoir, The Mighty Franks, asks who we are, and who those closest to us are, when life puts us to disturbing and powerful tests.
Michael Frank is the author of The Mighty Franks, the winner of the 2018 Jewish Quarterly–Wingate Prize and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. His essays, articles, and short stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Slate, The Yale Review, Salmagundi, and Tablet, among other publications. He lives with his family in New York City and Liguria, Italy.
D.C. resident Sarah Boxer is the author of two psychoanalytic cartoon novels, In the Floyd Archives and Mother May I? Her essays have been anthologized in The Peanuts Papers, Rereading America, and The Best American Comics Criticism.