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Afternoon Men

A Novel

With a new Foreword by Ed Park
Written from a vantage point both high and deliberately narrow, the early novels of the late British master Anthony Powell nevertheless deal in the universal themes that would become a substantial part of his oeuvre: pride, greed, and the strange drivers of human behavior.
More explorations of relationships and vanity than plot-driven narratives, Powell’s early works reveal the stirrings of the unequaled style, ear for dialogue, and eye for irony that would reach their caustic peak in his epic, A Dance to the Music of Time.

In Afternoon Men, the earliest and perhaps most acid of Powell’s novels, we meet the museum clerk William Atwater, a young man stymied in both his professional and romantic endeavors. Immersed in Atwater’s coterie of acquaintances—a similarly unsatisfied cast of rootless, cocktail-swilling London sophisticates—we learn of the conflict between his humdrum work life and louche social scene, of his unrequited love, and, during a trip to the country, of the absurd contrivances of proper manners.

A satire that verges on nihilism and a story touched with sexism and equal doses self-loathing and self-medication, AfternoonMen has a grim edge to it. But its dialogue sparks and its scenes grip, and for aficionados of Powell, this first installment in his literary canon will be a welcome window onto the mind of a great artist learning his craft.

240 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2014



“The funniest novel you’ve never read. . . . Afternoon Men is a revelation to sophisticated readers of every stripe, but especially to a certain kind of artist manqué on the brink of discovering that life is a more difficult business than he ever had reason to expect. . . . The subject matter is ‘relatable,’ as my students like to say. Better still, though, is what you can learn about the craft of writing from this marvelous book. . . . Indeed, if you’re looking for a funny, nonportentous Hemingway, then the early Powell is your man.”

Blake Bailey | Slate

Ooh, ooh, ooh, I'm excited because I recently read a reissue of Anthony Powell's Afternoon Men, and just know that this is the right book for . . . one of my most frequent correspondents.

John Warner, aka the Biblioracle | Chicago Tribune, Printers Row

“[A] still-too-little-acknowledged comic masterpiece.”

James Wolcott | Vanity Fair

“In its dead-pan comedy and its ultimate despair, Afternoon Men belongs with Cyril Connolly’s The Rock Pool and Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust. These books describe a part of England that no longer exists.”

John Bowen | New York Times

“Good entertainment. . . . Powell has a rich fund of irony and humour to support his extravagance and a humorous veracity of observation.”

Times Literary Supplement

“Looking back at Powell’s earlier novels, it is possible to see him discovering there how to use his razor-sharp satirical sense until it is purged of bitterness and extravagance.”

Elizabeth Janeway | New York Times

Table of Contents


Part I. Montage
Part II. Perihelion
Part III. Palindrome

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