Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by The Millions, Southern Living, and PureWow
Named a Best Book of the Week/Month/Year by People, The Times, Amazon, InStyle, The Oregonian, and The New York Post
“Andrew Ridker, still in his twenties, has uncorked a lively, tragicomic debut novel. . . . Ridker elevates his book with a sharp eye for the absurdities of contemporary American culture and his characters' irksome pieties, though his ironic sensibility is offset with a good measure of compassion. . . . Ridker's skillful balancing act between sympathy and satire is on full, fabulous display. . . . The Altruists boasts numerous charms, ranging from worthy ethical issues treated with an effective wryness to its rare, fond celebration of steamy St. Louis. Its ending is well-earned, and so are its life lessons, adding up to an unusually promising debut.”
—Heller McAlpin, NPR
“With humor and warmth, Ridker explores the meaning of family and its inevitable baggage. . . . A relatable, unforgettable view of regular people making mistakes and somehow finding their way back to each other."
—People (Book of the Week)
“Alive to the contradictions between morality and comfort that exist everywhere under global structures of capitalism and politics. . . . attractive, well-made fiction.”
—Katy Waldman, The New Yorker
“Reading Andrew Ridker’s debut novel, you soon realise you’re in the presence of a new talent. . . . The Altruists is intricately plotted. . . . Ridker writes in crisp, sometimes side-splitting prose. . . . Hilarious. . . . Remarkable.”
—Ben Cooke, The Times
“Tragedy begets comedy in Ridker’s strikingly assured debut about a family undone by grief. . . . Ridker spins delicate moral dilemmas in a novel that grows more complex and more uproarious by the page, culminating in an unforgettable climax.”
—Entertainment Weekly (Must List)
“This is a whip-smart, wickedly funny and psychologically acute novel about the cost of doing good. It manages to satirise its characters’ folly and egotism, while keeping us wholly on their side. The finale — a car crash of a family reunion — hits the sweet spot between hilarity and pathos with particularly excruciating precision, but there’s something to impress on every page.”
—The Daily Mail
“Ridker writes with such good humor and graceful irony that he manages to portray Arthur and his kids as people you want to care about, even if you wouldn’t invite them to your house. . . . Ridker’s genius is making a generally unlikable character fun to read and gossip about. Quite an accomplishment in a first novel.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“An ambitious family drama. . . . The fun is in the dysfunction.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“With prickly, strangely endearing characters and sharp writing, this novel is tender and hilarious.”
“Andrew Ridker has a lot to say about the way we live now. The result is one of those super-brilliant, super-funny novels one enjoys in the manner of a squirrel with an especially delicious acorn. I found myself trying to get out of every activity and responsibility just to come back to this novel.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
"Tender and intimate. . . . stunningly intricate and touching. . . . [a] call for universal generosity in a time of change, grief, and nationwide emotional tension."
—The Daily Mississippian
“This tragicomedy wittily explores old wounds, new grievances and hard-won wisdom.”
“[A] winning family saga.”
—Southern Living (The Best New Books Coming Out Spring 2019)
“[A] smart novel with an impressive balance between satire and heart.”
—The Sunday Times
”A painfully honest, but tender, examination of how love goes awry in the places it should flourish.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
“The Altruists is a witty look at baby boomers and millennials and the things money can’t buy.”
“A witty family saga that confronts the divide between baby boomers and their millennial offspring. This relatable tragicomedy riffs on capitalism and culture with verve.”
“Beautifully written, with witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fascinating characters, Ridker's impressive, deeply satisfying debut is an extraordinarily insightful look at a family broken apart by loss and struggling to find a way back to each other and themselves.”"
”The hype around The Altruists and Ridker, an Iowa Writers’ Workshop alum, is warranted. . . . The lesson Arthur and his children learn by the novel’s end is not financial in nature but moral. It proves to be priceless.”
“[A] smashing debut. . . . Ridker tells his tale with humor, insight, and depth, making this a novel that will resonate with readers.”
“The Altruists balances a fine line between dark humour and poignancy.”
—Good Housekeeping (UK)
“Andrew Ridker's ingenious plot sounds ripe for giddy-making farce, and The Altruists is indeed funny as hell. But the book belongs to the tradition of trenchant atomizations of the modern American family--the territory of Jonathan Franzen and Stuart Nadler, and Ridker is just as good. As points of view shift in time among Arthur, Francine and their kids, they take turns circling one another like vultures hungry for, in equal measure, answers and affirmation.”
“Humorous and poignant.”
“It’s frankly a little unfair that a writer so young should be this talented. Not only does Andrew Ridker have a sharp eye for the absurdities and contradictions of 21st century America, but he also delivers a heartfelt and compassionate story about a family shattered by loss, now finding their awkward way back to each other. I cared so much for these people, their traumas and betrayals, their public humiliations and private failures. The Altruists is a truly remarkable debut.”
—Nathan Hill, author of The Nix
“This book will inspire readers to sacrifice comfort and find meaning—Turn off (the comfort), Tune out (the babble of groupthink), Drop in (to duty and responsibility)—or else! Thank you to Andrew Ridker for this excellent debut novel. It is culturally significant and a sign of the times.”
—Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life
"The Altruists is a superb exploration of isolation, loneliness, and infidelity—in the broadest, most interesting application of the word. Every chapter is crafted with the care of a perfect short story, and the characters within it are so fully formed I could almost feel their breathing. How tremendous (and a little annoying) that a novel this striking could come from a writer so young."
—Kristen Radtke, author of Imagine Only Wanting This
"Andrew Ridker's expansive, big-hearted debut novel The Altruists is a hilarious and moving portrait of family, and a page-turning investigation of the blurry lines between right, wrong, and selfish."
—Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
“The Altruists is as rich and generous as the title suggests—a boisterous, funny, real-damn-smart novel about the agonies of family secrets and guilt. Andrew Ridker has got it all: magnetic style, oceans of intellect, and true affection for his hilariously neurotic characters. This book will have you doubled over and crying every sort of tear.”
—Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens
Arthur Alter is in trouble. A middling professor at a Midwestern college, he can’t afford his mortgage, he’s exasperated his much-younger girlfriend, and his kids won’t speak to him. And then there’s the money–the small fortune his late wife Francine kept secret, which she bequeathed directly to his children.
Those children are Ethan, an anxious recluse living off his mother’s money on a choice plot of Brooklyn real estate; and Maggie, a would-be do-gooder trying to fashion herself a noble life of self-imposed poverty. On the verge of losing the family home, Arthur invites his children back to St. Louis under the guise of a reconciliation. But in doing so, he unwittingly unleashes a Pandora’s box of age-old resentments and long-buried memories–memories that orbit Francine, the matriarch whose life may hold the key to keeping them together.
Spanning New York, Paris, Boston, St. Louis, and a small desert outpost in Zimbabwe, The Altruists is a darkly funny (and ultimately tender) family saga in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides, with shades of Philip Roth and Zadie Smith. It’s a novel about money, privilege, politics, campus culture, dating, talk therapy, rural sanitation, infidelity, kink, the American beer industry, and what it means to be a “good person.”
A Small Press Distribution Bestseller
"Excellent. . . . A crucially important time stamp in the larger history of American poetics."
"The range of poets and poems is phenomenal, from traditional to tech, established to new. . . [A]n important anthology."
"The book is, in plain fact, an excellent, superbly distributed introduction to American poetry circa 2014. The table of contents is at once a Who’s Who and a What Is This, and the book is filled with great poems by great writers. Of a dozen possible ways to indicate the territory, consider a map with these four corners: John Ashbery, CAConrad, Nikki Giovanni, and Robert Pinsky."