The Wanting Life

Mark Rader (Author)


"Mark Rader's The Wanting Life is somehow both quiet and deeply unsettling. A profound meditation on what we owe others and also ourselves, it balances the pleasure of getting to know a handful of vivid characters with the disconcerting awareness that their moral choices are, seeming by design, as impossible as our own." --Richard Russo, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool
Set in Rome, Cape Cod, and Wisconsin over the course of the summer of 2009, and Rome during the spring of 1970, The Wanting Life tells the intertwined story of three members of the Novak family: Father Paul, a closeted gay Catholic priest who's dying of cancer and has secrets he desperately wants to share; Britta, his self-destructive sister and caretaker, who's struggling to find meaning in a world without her beloved husband; and Maura, Britta's daughter--a thirty-nine-year-old artist who's facing a choice between her husband and two children, or the man she believes is her one, true love.
Featuring one of most unconventional love stories you'll read this year, The Wanting Life is both a compulsively readable family drama about the toll that secrets and loyalty can take on us, and a gorgeous meditation on the comforts (and limits) of faith and intimacy that calls to mind novels like Marilynne Robinson's Home, Alice McDermott's Charming Billy, and Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending.

Product Details

$18.00  $16.56
Unnamed Press
Publish Date
February 25, 2020
5.3 X 0.9 X 8.2 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author

Mark Rader has had stories published in Glimmer Train, Epoch, The Southern Review and shortlisted for an O. Henry Award, the Best American Non-Required Reading anthology, and a Pushcart Prize. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University and lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.


"The Wanting Life is a cross-generational novel focused on happiness, fulfillment, and love... a novel whose leads are unafraid to explore the complicated territory of human desire." --Foreword Reviews
"Through the intertwined stories of a dying priest full of regrets, his caretaker sister still mourning her late husband, and her adult daughter torn between her family and a new man in her life, Rader's poignant debut novel explores the emotional costs of seeking and sacrificing romantic love... An insightful and compassionate family drama about desire, love, and the courage it takes to live a full life." --Kirkus Reviews
"With indelible images, exquisite emotional nuance, and genuine wisdom, Rader explores faith, regret, shame, fear, and, most of all, love." --Booklist, Starred Review
"Mark Rader's tender, nuanced debut follows the life and loves of a dying priest and his compassion for a restless niece... Fans of The Great Believers will appreciate this story of heartfelt empathy." --Publishers Weekly