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Summary

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017

Narrated by the award-winning author himself, this epic tale invites you into a world where the fate of a single person takes four different turns. Graceful and eloquent, it's a touching story of how a life can be dramatically altered by the choices you make.

Paul Auster's first novel in seven years. His greatest, most provocative, most heartbreaking, most satisfying work. A sweeping story of birthright and possibility, of love and the fullness of life itself. A masterpiece.

This audiobook contains exclusive bonus material in the form of an interview with the author.

On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson's story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America. A boy grows up - again and again and again.

As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written, 4 3 2 1 is an unforgettable tour de force, the crowning work of this masterful writer's extraordinary career.

Paul Auster is the best-selling author of Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been short-listed for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions) and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance). His work has been translated into more than 30 languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

©2017 Paul Auster (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"One of the great writers of our time." ( San Francisco Chronicle)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I honestly tried to get through this.

With reviews like "Brilliant. A complete masterpiece. Loved it." and "Invest the time. it's worth it!" I thought I really needed to persevere with this book...but after 26 hours I had to give up.

What was wrong? Firstly, I hated the performance (authors should not read their own work except for a very few notable exceptions), all the characters had the same voice, I could hear him breathing and turning pages on the recording and, surprisingly as he is the author, he stumbled in his reading a few times. Secondly, the subject matter was dull. I never warmed to any Archie and I just wasn't interested in their lives. Thirdly, it made me feel like I was missing some deeper point that others seem to have grasped (see reviews), and I think this is why I persevered for so long with it, I was determined to have the 'Aha' moment. It never came and it left me feeling dumb.

All this said however, everyone is different so don't let my review put you off.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant. A complete masterpiece. Loved it.

Paul Auster is a writer of real intelligence, wit and is a master of complex plotting. The concept of this book -the lifestory of one person told in four different imaginings- is inspired and daring but the author pulls it off. Loved all the interwoven characters and the inclusion of the politics of 1960s/1970s USA. I was so sad when it ended but I will look forward to listening to it again n the future.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Badger
  • Cambridge, Cambs United Kingdom
  • 01-02-17

Gold, pure Auster gold.

37 hours of Paul Auster's voice and text! This really is a dream come true. It's a rare treat to hear Auster narrate his fiction. His perfectly paced delivery is every bit as brilliant as his prose. I've listened to a few hours and know that I'll be listening again and again ... and again. And again ...

On a bit of a side note, if you're using an Apple device and it refuses to download - you might need to go into settings and download in parts, rather than the large single file.



23 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Arduous reading, some great but brief moments

What disappointed you about 4 3 2 1?

Not easy to follow. Probably requires a second read to fully absorb. Saying this, I feel no desire to read it again: The book might be more interesting for someone who is interested in writing literature as the bulk of the story is about the main character tying to "make it" in the field. His personal endeavours on the other hand, were a bit more exciting.Sadly, this is no Moon Palace, and I so wanted it to be.

Would you be willing to try another one of Paul Auster’s performances?

Tentatively yes.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

It was disappointing and depressing in equal measure.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Invest the time. it's worth it!

I loved this audible so much I have ordered the paperback. Listen and enjoy.

Four life stories, same characters but different paths and different lives. The clever thing is you get sucked into each Ferguson's life, but it's not difficult either to move between the four versions. I couldn't imagine how the author could bring the whole thing convincingly to an end. But he does and I loved it. Also appreciate Paul Auster reading the audible. Wonderful tone and pace of delivery. I could listen all day!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A very long listen

I enjoyed the book. The author also narrates the book and he has a lovely rhythm and tone. I did tend to get a little lost from time to time however when trying to remember the individual story line for each version of Ferguson.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen
  • Plumstead, London, United Kingdom
  • 01-05-17

engaging

An engaging story that explores how turning a different corner, making a different choice, can affect ones whole path in life. I loved the characters and really enjoyed following their stories. The fact that their paths were set against and entwined with real events..the civil rights movement. ..the war in Vietnam etc. made their journeys all the more vivid. A very good audible download.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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4 Long Boring Stories. Monotonous Delivery.

4 extremely dull versions of one rather uninteresting American boy's young life, delivered in a monotone. Confusing as the four versions are very similar. I normally read to the end of every book, whether I like it or not, but have given up on this after enduring 16 chapters. Life is too short!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A magnificent read.

This novel is chock full of ideas, the same character, Archie, seen through four separate realities. His life follows similar and dissimilar paths and has some recurring characters in the threads, who influence him in different ways, as their lives are also different. It is set, in part, during the turbulent political decades of the fifties, sixties and early seventies. These times allow the possibility of differing views and motivations of the characters, the story follows effortlessly. The overall effect is a rich, textured and very fulfilling read. Possibly Paul Auster's finest work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Goes on a bit, and a bit more , and.. <br /><br /><br /><br />

Interesting concept and for the first few hours of listening i thought the i was going really enjoy it..... But it drones unremitting on. I found the characters unsympathetic anx well..... boring. The author appears more interested in imparting his philosophical meandering on sex and politics than ln telling a tale. Some of the historical context was interesting for a while but again this turned into a lecture.
Audible has a systdm of award badges - i think they should award one for perseverance. I managed about 23 hours but in the end it just proved too much for me and the final 7 hours remain unlistened to. Life is just too short.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ms
  • 19-05-17

Brilliant book. genius Auster as usual!

i loved this complex novel once I worked out how to follow the different versions of the same boy.