Oprah Magazine recently asked George Saunders to name a few books he’s excited about for Summer 2015. The first book he mentioned was Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas.
Said Saunders, “I first read a draft of this book when Liontas was in our graduate program at Syracuse and I was astonished by how enjoyable and natural it was—it’s a big, rollicking, tender novel/family saga with a truly original comic voice at its center—a Greek father who is part Zorba, part King Lear. Liontas has an amazing ear, a real fondness for people, and a killer sense of structure.”
Let Me Explain You begins with a letter: Stavros Stavros Mavrakis, Greek immigrant and proud owner of the Gala Diner in New Jersey, believes he has just ten days left to live. He sends a scathing email to his estranged ex-wife and three grown daughters, outlining his wishes for how they each might better their lives. He then prepares for his final hours and wonders why he is alone. With varying degrees of laughter and scorn, his family and friends have dismissed his behavior as nothing more than a predictable plea for attention, but when Stavros really does disappear, those closest to him are forced to confront the possibility of his death and the realities of their loss.
A vibrant tour de force told from multiple perspectives and driving to a surprising conclusion, Let me Explain You eulogizes Stavros Stavros, turning in part on his realization that “a man spends his whole life trying to say it better,” while giving necessary voice to the women in his life. This multigenerational novel explores our origins and family myths, reinvention and forgiveness, hunger and what feeds us. Let Me Explain You is a beautifully told, heartfelt story, and its meditations on the communal power of storytelling and family—most notably the relationship between fathers and daughters, but also the complex bond of sisterhood—are at turns hilarious and deeply moving.
The semi-autobiographical nature of Let Me Explain You creates potential for off-the-book-page coverage. Liontas, the product of an arranged marriage, was three pounds at birth. Her mother struggled with addiction and consequently, Annie spent her early childhood in Greece, immigrating to the United States when she was five years old. She has drawn on her personal history to craft this stunning debut.
The audiobook for Let Me Explain You is scheduled to release July 14.