The Wasp Eater

Lychack simply makes a reader feel the sadness inherent in this whole buinsess of trying to connect with other human beings.
—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
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This spare, meticulous novel opens out like a poem, its deceptively casual images bearing an entire universe of weight.
—Polly Shulman, The New York Times Book Review 

In The Wasp Eater, William Lychack's deeply moving first novel, we watch as a 10-year-old boy navigates the emotional minefield in which his family spends its last days together.
—Anne Stephenson, USA Today 

The Wasp Eater is superb. Such perfection of tone, such clarity of emotion, such spare and beautiful language.
—Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever

William Lychack has given us a fierce elegy on the romance of family life, clear-eyed and immediate in its lyric brevity.
—Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist’s Daughter 

This is how it feels to be a son whose parents are unstable yet almost within reach, if only he can love them enough.
The San Francisco Chronicle 

The Wasp Eater sounds more surreal than it is. At heart, it's a graceful and all-too-brief exploration of a family in crisis, of an uneasy father-son alliance and of a boy who finds himself on the cusp of adolescence with much more to digest than just an insect and a diamond ring.
The Los Angeles Times

Lychack’s debut is an unpretentious, quiet-but-not-whispery book that engages the reader through the eyes of 10-year-old Daniel… The simplicity and clarity of Lychack’s writing are effective in their precise portrayal of a child’s mind and the powerlessness of childhood. The writing is so vivid that the reader, stuck in Daniel’s thoughts, can sometimes feel as helpless and clueless as the boy.
People Magazine 

A heart-stopping first novel... Anna is clear: Her 20 year-old-marriage to Bob is over... The sudden rupture leaves their only child, ten-year old Daniel, feeling miserably torn… It’s tempting to call this a small gem, except there is nothing small about a work that glows with such tenderness for its three leads.
Kirkus (Starred Review)

Just when the dysfunctional family drama seems entirely wrung out, along comes a book so freshly original that it seems to have invented the genre. What’s so remarkable here is the understatedness, the quietly intense writing carefully containing more emotion than many louder novels have to show. Original, too, is the impulse to heal rather than to break away—however mixed the outcome... The book itself is bitter-sweet, small-scale yet deeply affecting-not a symphony but rather a Beethoven quartet. Highly recommended.
Library Journal (Starred Review) 

In devastating detail, the novel captures everything from the boy's silences to his uncalibrated destructive outbursts. At one point, Lychack describes Daniel feeling "as if he'd swallowed a bit of metal - a washer or a coin and someone was bringing it back up along his spine with a magnet." Readers might experience something similar witnessing this family's disintegration.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Sweet and poignant... The adult Daniel surely makes peace with his parents' fissure, but The Wasp Eater isn't about retrospective analysis and wisdom from experience. It's about being in the moment itself. With his sensory memories of childhood, Lychack drops us in Daniel's moment and lets us feel briefly like a lost and heartbroken little boy.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Lychack finds new ways to describe feelings too achingly familiar to anyone whose parents ever delivered similar news... Although Lychack enters the perspective of all three family members, he lets Daniel's story fill most of the pages... This simple story remains painful: parents leave, a child is suspended between them, and no one will ever win, not even if you wait decades to tally up the final score.
The San Diego Union Tribune

How much betrayal is too much to bear? William Lychack, in his debut novel, The Wasp Eater, explores this question through the eyes of a young boy whose family is imploding … The Wasp Eater moves back and forth through generations... and in and out of an almost dreamy state of mind. It lays bare the extraordinary degrees of emotion that can color the most ordinary of lives. Ultimately, it makes for an exquisite, yet troubling book... beautifully and skillfully rendered.
The Birmingham News

More than a simple narrative on the breakdown of the family, The Wasp Eater is a powerful treatise on the devastation wrought when a person refuses to forgive, the bond that ties sons to fathers, and the life that sometimes comes through death.

This is not a novel about forgiveness or of boyhood innocence lost. There is no satisfying sense of justice served. However, the narrator's acute sensitivity towards place makes this a novel worth reading, if solely for the experience of words beautifully woven together.

Lychack has the writer’s gift for vivifying the smallest moments and biggest emotions of our lives so they become not only lyrical, but also understood.
—Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mister Albert

Beautifully understated, delicately crafted...

Vividly rendered…
The Washington Post

An expedition limned with menace...
Publishers Weekly

Lyric language… Precise imagry… I loved this…
—Bret Lott, author of Jewel