John Irving
Avenue of Mysteries

Book Cover

John Irving returns to the themes that established him as one of North America's most admired and beloved storytellers in this absorbing novel of fate and memory.

As we grow older—most of all, in what we remember and what we dream—we live in the past. Sometimes, we live more vividly in the past than in the present.

As an older man, Juan Diego will take a trip to the Philippines, but what travels with him are his dreams and memories; he is most alive in his childhood and early adolescence in Mexico. "An aura of fate had marked him," John Irving writes, of Juan Diego. "The chain of events, the links in our lives—what leads us where we're going, the courses we follow to our ends, what we don't see coming, and what we do—all this can be mysterious, or simply unseen, or even obvious."

Avenue of Mysteries is the story of what happens to Juan Diego in the Philippines, where what happened to him in the past—in Mexico—collides with his future.

Praise for John Irving's Avenue of Mysteries:

Instant New York Times Bestseller

“The sustaining beauty of Irving’s artistry is his richly rendered characters
. . . garbled-tongued Lupe, whose comic, profane and profound insights only Juan Diego (and, delightfully, the reader) can comprehend, is truly something else. . . . Irving keeps this imaginative story, his aging novelist, his odd cast of characters, and his readers, moving on a trajectory toward collision in this unfailingly masterful narrative.” —USA Today

"An empathically imagined, masterfully told, and utterly transporting tale of transcendent sacrifice and perseverance, unlikely love, and profound mysteries." —Booklist, starred review

“Once again, Irving’s lyrical writing grabs readers from the first page.” —Library Journal

“Irving has always been a consummately convincing realist, in matters both great and small. . . . While writers of later generations seldom come close to achieving Irving’s levels of verisimilitude, his realism is transmogrified by his general whimsicality and by his attraction to baroque extrapolations of the absurd. This sort of ambition . . . is part of what makes Irving such a prodigious entertainer. . . . This novel is not autobiographical, but it does present an aging artist with a sacred wound, tremendous desire, and an endless appetite for wonder.” —The Boston Globe

“The character is a captivating original; his tale includes humor, pathos, and acute observations. Once again, Irving charms by blending the fantastical with what is deeply, affectingly real.” —People

“Juan Diego’s memories of adolescence around 1970 in Oaxaca compose some of the most charming scenes that Irving has ever written. He’s still an unparalleled choreographer of outrageous calamities that exist somewhere between coincidence and fate. . . . Those conflicting currents of spirituality flowing through Avenue of Mysteries add to Irving’s rich exploration of faith in several earlier novels.” —Washington Post

“A wild and rollicking ride . . . Irving plays delightful havoc with this colorful collection of humanity, beguiling us from start to finish.” —Seattle Times

“Irving works his familiar themes—Catholicism, sex, death—with a light and assured touch. . . . A welcome return to form.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The novel's tone moves easily from drama to comedy to tragedy, the perfect mix for a film adaptation someday. Casting will probably take time—these characters are so unique. Until then, lose yourself in this tale from one of America's pre-eminent storytellers.” —Associated Press

Avenue of Mysteries is full of Irvingisms—the transvestite, the circus, the orphanage, the character who can’t speak, the car accident, the missing father, the weird Christianity. These elements are part of the fun for fans: hearing the familiar rhythm, finding the trademark components fit together in a novel way.” —Newsday

"A vivid writer about sex." —The New York Times

"The outsize characters on the two vast alternating canvases Irving paints are more varied than the acts in a circus caravan.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“A richly detailed, imaginative and beautiful novel, with a series of events that seem equally bizarre and resoundingly universal. . . . It is a complex and many-layered novel that covers a lot of intellectual, moral and emotional ground, but in the end, it is the simplest, saddest and most wonderful tale of the human condition. It is about what we all fear: finding people to love, and then losing them, too.” —The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“In its early pages especially, Avenue of Mysteries is laugh-out-loud funny. . . . Yet as funny as the new novel often is, Irving’s reconsideration of earlier themes seems more somber here. The novel explores questions of belief and disillusionment, chance and choice, the mundane and the miraculous. Avenue of Mysteries is a provocative and perplexing novel.” —Bookpage

“This sprawling, imaginative tale about a writer whose life’s journey has all the qualities of a modern Dickens novel is vintage Irving.” —AARP Magazine

Praise for John Irving's In One Person:

#1 National Bestseller
International Bestseller
Winner of the 2013 Lambda Literary Bisexual Literature Award

"In One Person is a story about memory. Inevitably it is also a story about desire, the most unsettling of our memories. And it is a story about reading yourself through the stories of others... Tolerance, in a John Irving novel, is not about anything goes. It's what happens when we face our own desires honestly, whether we act on them or not." —Jeanette Winterson, New York Times

"Even in his early work, Irving treated readers to sexual leaps and gender surprises. The author's stylistic virility has always depended on performance-enhancing devices that literary fiction tried to outlaw years ago — big-hearted, Dickensian contrivances — and, at seventy, he is waving a rainbow flag on this latest trip over the top." —The New Yorker

"This searching, deeply affecting novel... reaffirms the centrality of Irving as the voice of social justice and compassion in contemporary American literature. His work has been indispensable over the past four decades, and it will prove more important, more urgently resonant and more prescient, in the decades to come." —Steven Hayward, The Globe and Mail

"Irving at his best: unbearably sad, unforgettably narrated, painfully human." —USA Today

Genre: Literary fiction
Setting: Mexico & The Phillipines
Length: 480 pp (hc)
Publication Date: November 2015

Canadian English rights, Knopf/Random House Canada
UK rights, Doubleday UK
US rights, Simon & Schuster

For all other rights contact The Turnbull Agency.
John Irving

Photo Credit:
Jane Sobel

John Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven. Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp. He received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for his short story "Interior Space." In 2000, Mr. Irving won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In 2013, he won a Lambda Literary Award for his novel In One Person. An international writer—his novels have been translated into more than thirty-five languages—John Irving lives in Toronto. His all-time best-selling novel, in every language, is A Prayer for Owen Meany. Avenue of Mysteries is his fourteenth novel.

  • In One Person
  • Last Night in Twisted River
  • A Sound Like Someone Trying Not to Make A Sound
  • The Fourth Hand
  • My Movie Business
  • A Widow for One Year
  • The Imaginary Girlfriend
  • A Son of the Circus
  • Trying to Save Piggy Sneed
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • The Cider House Rules
  • The Hotel New Hampshire
  • The World According to Garp
  • The 158-Pound Marriage
  • The Water-Method Man
  • Setting Free the Bears