Crossing California

Publisher Riverhead/Putnam, June 2004

Hilarious and poignant, ambitious and tremendously fun, CROSSING CALIFORNIA is a novel about two generations of family and friendship in Chicago in the 1970s.

In 1979, California Avenue, in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood, separates the upper middle-class Jewish families from the mostly middle-class Jewish residents on the east of the divide. This by turns funny and heartbreaking first novel tells the story of three families and their teenage children living on either side of California, following their loves, heartaches, and friendships during a memorable moment of American history. Langer’s captivating portraits, his uncanny and extraordinarily vivid recreation of a not-so-past time and place, and his pitch-perfect dialogue all make CROSSING CALIFORNIA certain to evoke memories and longing in its readers-as well as laughter and anxiety. Whether viewed as an American Graffiti for the ‘70s, The (Jewish) Corrections, a Chicagoan Manhattan, or early Philip Roth for a new generation, CROSSING CALIFORNIA is an unforgettable, and thoroughly enjoyable, contribution to contemporary fiction.

“A work of unusual mastery, compassion, insight and wit. What is exciting about CROSSING CALIFORNIA is not merely the scope of Adam Langer’s literary ambitions, but the generous ways in which he fulfills them.”
— Gary Shteyngart, author of Russian Debutante

“Crossing California is so rich in the vitality of life that it includes a glossary of terms, which is itself far more interesting and evocative than are many other novels entirely. I suggest you cross whatever streets and avenues are necessary to get to a bookstore and pick up your copy of Crossing California.”
— Gene Shalit, The Today Show, NBC-TV

Chicago’s California Avenue is where wit and ingenuity meet the heart and soulfulness of Jewish American fiction in this wonderfully confident novel. Rooted in its artfully developed characters as well as California Avenue, a real street in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood, Crossing California captures its intimate feel, then cleverly sets that intimacy in the context of world events.”
— Stuart Dybek, Author of I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago


Crossing California