TUESDAY NIGHTS IN 1980 / SCOUT PRESS / 2016
Welcome to SoHo at the onset of the eighties: a gritty, quickly gentrifying playground for artists and writers looking to make it in the big city. Among them: James Bennett, a synesthetic art critic for the New York Times whose unlikely condition enables him to describe art in profound, magical ways, and Raul Engales, an exiled Argentinian painter running from his past and the Dirty War that has enveloped his country. As the two men ascend in the downtown arts scene, dual tragedies strike, and each is faced with a loss that acutely affects his relationship to life and to art.
It is not until they are inadvertently brought together by Lucy Olliason—a small town beauty and Raul’s muse—and a young orphan boy sent mysteriously from Buenos Aires that James and Raul are able to rediscover some semblance of what they’ve lost.
As inventive as Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and as sweeping as Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, Tuesday Nights in 1980 boldly renders a complex moment when the meaning and nature of art is being all but upended, and New York City as a whole is reinventing itself. In risk-taking prose that is as powerful as it is playful, Molly Prentiss deftly explores the need for beauty, community, creation, and love in an ever-changing urban landscape.
“In one sentence, Ms. Prentiss captures a sense of intoxication and possibility that six seasons of voice-overs from Sarah Jessica Parker never could.” (The New York Times)
"First-time novelist Prentiss vividly conjures a colorful love triangle set in the gritty, art-soaked world of downtown New York in 1980. Impressive, too, is her ability to create an atmosphere that crackles with possibility as well as foreboding...a bold and auspicious debut." (Publishers Weekly)
“An intoxicating Manhattan fairy tale… As affecting as it is absorbing. A thrilling debut.” (Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review))
"Tuesday Nights in 1980 is a sweepingly large and profound story about art, love and actualization, cleanly and beautifully composed... A poetic novel of ambitiously profound considerations, a large-scale drama in a series of small, perfectly rendered moments." (Shelf Awareness)
"We are luckily introduced to three individuals who bravely take the stage, ready to conquer SoHo by storm. Their trek amongst the bright lights is captivating, and readers will be hanging on the edge of their seats." (RT Book Reviews)
An April 2016 LibraryReads Pick (LibraryReads)
“Tuesday Nights in 1980 is a discerning, passionate and humane work.” (BookPage)
“A sharp rendering of a city in transition.” (The Guardian)
"It's 1980 in SoHo, and in this thrilling, vibrant debut, a synesthetic art critic could make or break [an artist named] Raul. And so could a girl named Lucy. Oh, and his own recklessness, too." (Marie Claire magazine)
"It isn't easy to write a novel about art, and even harder to write a novel about art this good, with this much energy and verve and sense of adventure—and Molly Prentiss has done it. "Tuesday Nights in 1980" is much more than an accomplished first novel; it is a beautifully written story of creation and transformation, set against a backdrop of urban decay and political violence. I loved this book." —Daniel Alarcon, author of At Night We Walk in Circles and Lost City Radio
"For those of us who like our novels soulful and brainy, ambitious and deeply felt, Molly Prentiss has given us a first work of fiction to marvel at and then savor. This is a serious young writer in full command of her craft." —Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me
"Whether her canvas is as broad as the New York City art world in the good old days of glitz and excess, or as small as the quiet, deeply moving connection between brother and sister, Molly Prentiss seems able to render any expression of humanity expertly onto the page. "Tuesday Nights in 1980" has worlds in it, all widely appealing, and Molly Prentiss has chops to spare. I can't imagine the soul who won't love this book." —Marie Helene Bertino, author of 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas