The Second Coming | Granta

  • Published: 04/07/2024
  • ISBN: 9781803511078
  • Granta Books
  • 608 pages

The Second Coming

Garth Risk Hallberg

When 13-year-old Jolie Aspern drops her phone onto the subway tracks in 2011, her estranged dad, Ethan, seems like the furthest thing from her mind. A convicted felon and recovering addict, Ethan has always struggled to see past himself. But then a call from his ex makes him fear their daughter’s in deeper trouble than anyone realises. Believing he’s the only one who can save her, he decides to return to New York with a gift: the whole of his life, its hard-won triumphs and harrowing mistakes…

So begins the intimate epic of Jolie and Ethan: child and adult, apart and together, different yet the same. Their journey toward each other will face opposition from grandparents and siblings and friends. It will strain connections with roommates and benefactors and a probation officer desperate to help. It will push Jolie out past her depth with a mysterious admirer, and Ethan in over his head with his first love, Jolie’s mom. But as father and daughter struggle to find their footing, new vistas beckon: from a surf break in mid-’90s Delaware to group therapy during the Great Recession, from an encampment at Occupy Wall Street to a HoJo on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, from the heights of the Brooklyn Bridge to horizons seldom seen in fiction.

The Second Coming is at once an incandescent feat of storytelling and an exploration of an enduring mystery: Can we ever really outrun the past, stay true to ourselves while still chasing something new? Full of music and pathos and passion, this beautifully attuned work of fiction makes good Garth Risk Hallberg’s extraordinary promise.

Reading Garth Risk Hallberg is a constant delightful surprise - you never know what's coming next... The Second Coming is a beautiful and daring novel, as inventive as it is breathtaking

Nathan Hill

Garth Risk Hallberg's The Second Coming is a sprawling, aching, ultimately hopeful account of a father's love for a daughter and a daughter's defiance of that love when all too often it manifests as dysfunction. Hallberg deals with the dilemma of parental inheritance with a light touch, and the grace that finally descends on the Aspern clan is not only transformative but triumphant

Joshua Ferris

A powerful statement about the clarifying purpose in parental love... A fascinating - and convincing - portrait of a daughter in crisis and a father in need of redemption

Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves

The Author

GARTH RISK HALLBERG‘s first novel, City on Fire, was a New York Times and international bestseller. It was the basis for the Apple TV+ series of the same name. He is also the author of the novella A Field Guide to the North American Family. In 2017, he was named as a Granta Best of Young American Novelist. His work has been translated into seventeen languages.

More about the author →

Garth Risk Hallberg on

In Conversation | The Online Edition

Garth Risk Hallberg | Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists

Garth Risk Hallberg & Luke Neima

‘I am very interested in the question of reality on the one hand and imagination on the other, so the mirror has to be angled slightly to take in something that isn’t already there’

Fiction | Granta 139

The Meat Suit

Garth Risk Hallberg

‘All life is suffering. At the zendo where Jolie went Thursdays after sixth period, not much in the way of portable wisdom got dispensed, but this was, near as she could tell, the through line.’