Charles Bock MFA ’97 Receives National Critical Acclaim with His Debut Novel Beautiful Children

Feb 08, 2008

The New York Times Sunday, February 4, 2008 Book Review cover went to Charles Bock MFA ’97 for his debut novel, Beautiful Children (Random House, 2008). The Times sums up their raving review with “One word: bravo.” Bock’s first novel has managed to garner a nearly unprecedented amount of coverage from The New York Times. From its six-page feature in the January 27, 2008 edition of The New York Times Magazine, to the February 7, 2008 excerpt of his first chapter, to the cover of The New York Times Book Review—Bock has achieved the kind of literary prominence rarely bestowed on new or established authors. A.M. Homes called the book “Near-genius.”

Esquire rushed to list it as one of the “top 100 things you need to know about.” The Las Vegas Sun hails it as “one of the best debut novels in years.” The Washington Post declared Beautiful Children, “exceptional.”

Quoted in The New York Times, Bock says that he “wanted a book that would read like it had always existed, like all the structural pieces were exactly where they should be.“ According to The Los Angeles Times, he succeeds. They write in their January 14, 2008 review that he does “an admirable job parsing out a lost world…and captures the hallucinogenic setting like a fever dream….”

Bock is the most recent member of Bennington College’s extraordinary roster of writers, which includes alumni like Man Booker Prize winner and National Book Critics Circle winner Kiran Desai ’93; National Book Critics Circle Award winner and MacArthur “Genius Award” winner Jonathan Lethem ’86; Brett Easton Ellis ’86; Donna Tartt 86; and Michael Pollan ’76, among scores of others.

Listen to Charles Bock on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
Listen to his recent interview on public radio's On Point with Tom Ashbrook.
Purchase Beautiful Children.
Learn more about Bennington's undergraduate literature and low-residency graduate writing program.