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The Blizzard Party

MCD × FSG, 2021

A panoramic novel set in New York City during the catastrophic blizzard of February 1978

On the night of February 6, 1978, a catastrophic nor'easter struck the city of New York. On that night, in a penthouse in the Upper West Side’s stately Apelles, a crowd gathered for a wild party. And on that night, Mr. Albert Haynes Caldwell—a partner emeritus at Swank, Brady & Plescher; Harvard class of '26; father of three; widower; atheist; and fiscal conservative—hatched a plan to fake a medical emergency and toss himself into the Hudson River, where he would drown.

In the eye of this storm: Hazel Saltwater, age six. The strange events of that night irrevocably altered many lives, but none more than hers. The Blizzard Party is Hazel’s reconstruction of that night, an exploration of love, language, conspiracy, auditory time travel, and life after death.

Cinematic, with a vast cast of characters and a historical scope that spans World War II Poland, the lives of rich and powerful Manhattanites in the late 1970’s, and the enduring effects of 9/11, Jack Livings's The Blizzard Party is an epic novel in the form of a final farewell.

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  • "[A] brilliant debut novel . . . Livings calls to mind the work of Michael Chabon as he brings insight into the way events and circumstances shape his characters' lives. This is one to savor."

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • "An expansive, discursive novel...That the author somehow manages to fit it all together, puzzle-like, by the end is a feat of acrobatic storytelling... [The book] explores the minutiae to get to the big questions: What do our connections and actions and words mean in the end? How are we connected to one another and what, even, is reality? ... The Blizzard Party could be the love child of Jonathan Franzen’s merciless eye for human behavior and James Joyce’s elaborate wordsmithing. It has the feel of a “big, important” American novel, and it’s a reminder that sometimes fiction is the only possible way to get to the truth of a thing."


  • "[An] ambitious debut . . . [The Blizzard Party] features moments of brilliance, especially in the dialogue and the surprising connections. A literary feast."


  • "[A] first novel that might be called a detour de force: sprawling, discursive, loose-limbed (and impressive) . . . Livings's nearest model may be the doorstop-sized novels of Tom Wolfe . . . and this book is similarly digressive, maximalist, and prone to old-fashioned manipulations of sentiment. Livings may not quite have Wolfe's journalistic chops, but he's a far more skillful and empathetic novelist, and what seems moralistic and preening in Wolfe's books reads here mostly as playful and nimble . . . One may wonder why a first-time novelist in 2020 would follow the Wolfe/Balzac template for the Novel of Everything . . . but the fact is that Livings, amazingly, pulls it off. An exuberant, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink pleasure."

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)