Before the Wind

Publisher: Bond Street Books

 


Jim Lynch's fourth novel is his long-awaited breakthrough--a grand saga of a sailing-obsessed family that can stand alongside Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion.

Joshua Johannssen has spent his whole life among sailboats. His grandfather--Grumps, a.k.a. Bobo Sr.--famously designed them, his father--Bobo Jr.--raced and built them and his mother--enthralled by Einstein and mathematics--knows exactly how and why they work, or not. For Josh and his siblings, the Puget Sound is their backyard, used mostly for racing, and sailing their DNA. As a child, Ruby confounded not only her family (with magical feats no one could explain) but also the local and nationwide sailing community (by throwing a race that would've delivered her to the Olympic Games). But both she and her oldest brother fled over a decade ago to the ends of the earth, Ruby to Africa and elsewhere to do good works on land, Bernard to sea as a law-defying fugitive and pirate.
     Now pushing thirty, Josh has set up shop in a marina an hour south of their Seattle home and repairs anything from abandoned wrecks to million-dollar yachts, pained daily by whatever it was that went wrong with his damn family. Plus he can't find a girlfriend to save his life, only one useless date after another. But suddenly the Johannssens reunite, at long last, for the most important race in these waters, all of them together on a historic vessel they made decades ago that will carry each to a destiny both individual and collective, and to a heart-shattering revelation.
     Past and present merge seamlessly and collide surprisingly as Jim Lynch reveals a family unlike any other. He puts us all before the wind with the grace and magic of a master storyteller.

PRAISE FOR

A National Post Best Book
A Wall Street Journal Best Book


"Writers have long found poetry in sailing. Lynch's skill is to find it in the mundane tasks and motley milieu that underpin glory on the water. . . . This is an incredibly robust evocation of the sailing world of Puget Sound . . . [and a] lovably obsessive work." —The New York Times Book Review

"A breathtaking, emotionally satisfying and genuinely surprising piece of work. . . . [Lynch] writes powerfully and naturalistically, plunging the reader into an alien world, all the while concealing, like the best of magicians, what is really going on. Before the Wind is a magical, heartbreaking book." —Toronto Star 

"These days, authors don't always get the chance to build up to a breakout book, but Jim Lynch has done it with his fourth novel. A marriage of Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion and John McPhee, the Puget Sound-set Before the Wind explores the dynamics of family with the same nuance as the life-or-death subtleties of sailing." —National Post

"An affectionate and very funny tribute to the gentle madness of sailing diehards." —The Wall Street Journal

"A cautionary tale of obsession and what it can cost tells of three generations whose devotion to sailing holds them together until it sunders them. . . . Lynch dissects an uncommon family with, after all, more than one thing in common in a highly readable tale." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"[Lynch] writes both humorously and movingly about one family's lifelong love of sailing. For those who love a good sea story, this novel will be as bracing as salt spray during an autumn sail." —Publishers Weekly

"Not just any writer could weave a story about sailing, speed dating, dysfunctional family dynamics and Albert Einstein into an emotionally resonant novel, but Jim Lynch is the man for it." —The Seattle Times 

"A beautifully rendered tale of family and friendship, of souls caught on the wind, of birds that think they're fish and sailors who yearn for the shore. It's a story that will stay with you long after it's done, like the spreading wake of a boat passing at dusk." —Will Ferguson, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for 419

"Before the Wind will enthrall the mariner in all of us—our mystical connection with the sea and the irresistible appeal of competition against wind and waves and one another. It is also a story about the complexity of family—alienation, estrangement and sibling rivalry, and the healing power of humour, loyalty and love." —Linden MacIntyre, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for The Bishop's Man

"Lynch brings his usual gifts—a wide-ranging mind, an ear for precise but musical language, empathy, intelligence, and imagination—to what may be his best yet. I so loved this book!" —Karen Joy Fowler, author of Jane Austen's Book Club

"From the first paragraph I was hooked by Jim Lynch's language, his humor, his wisdom. The characters are marvelous, the storytelling confident and rollicking; the whole book a delight and a surprise." —Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

"Jim Lynch understands families. He knows how they can fracture and pull apart, and how (sometimes grudgingly, sometimes awkwardly) they can fit back together. His latest, magnificent novel is about a lot of things, sailing most notably—but the primary and, to me, most exceptional quality of Before the Wind is its abiding, wise and deeply empathetic understanding of family. Having finished it, I felt a profound intimacy with the Johannssens and wished I could have spent just a little more time in their fierce, obsessive, beautiful world." —Craig Davidson, Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated author of Cataract City

"Before the Wind is a barn burner of a book. A perfectly weighted narrative that tacks gracefully between humour and pathos, a cast of compelling oddballs and enough arcane lore of hardcore mariners and science geeks to make your head spin with wonder. A great read." —Michael Crummey, bestselling author of Sweetland

"I was born and raised at the mouth of the ocean and watched boats come and go my whole young life. Jim Lynch's Before the Wind brings me back to those shores as his song of a novel sings of both the ease and magic of the perfect sailing day and the near impossibility of surviving the worst one." —Alan Doyle, bestselling author of Where I Belong