Claire Cox's Juniper Prize-winning debut novel
Silver Beach is a darkly funny family saga of estrangement, addiction, and the stubborn affinity of siblings. Set mostly in southern California, the novel follows two adult sisters and their ruinously alcoholic mother as they awkwardly reunite and navigate the aftermath of their mother’s heart attack. In the wake of their mother’s implosion, the sisters open up the real possibility of their own redemption.
This is a novel about the persistent, mystifying ties of family, the extravagant mess of addiction, and what it means to actually live inside your own life.
Advance praise for Silver Beach
"Silver Beach will get under your skin. Claire Cox inhabits the grief-shadowed lives of her protagonists, alcoholic Linda and her two radically different daughters, Mara and Shannon, with lucid precision. This is a stellar and haunting debut."—Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl
"Silver Beach is a stirring novel about family, love and addiction, told with great empathy and care and a gentle curiosity about the limits of the human heart. Claire Cox is the next great chronicler of modern consciousness, despair and hope.”—Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of Libertie
“Claire Cox writes with tender grace about not just the familiar complications of family grief—heartache and confusion and guilt—the mother and sisters of Silver Beach also discover the surprises that come from shared loss: affection, connection, wily humor, and slanted comforts. This is a lot more than another bittersweet story. It’s the happiest, saddest novel you’ll read in some time.”—Chris Adrian, author of The Great Night
“Silver Beach just sat me down, in every possible sense: grounded me, made me wait, pushed me around. It's as heavy and fun and bewildering as drunkenness, as tense as planning a sudden exit from a party that's about to take a turn, and I had a wonderful, nauseous time reading it.”—Daniel M. Lavery, author of Something That May Shock and Discredit You
“What do you do when life takes a turn and becomes a downward spiral? What do you do when it is your mother, caught in that spiral? Silver Beach is populated by three sisters—one drowned, one lost, one settled. Their roles keep shifting—the one who is settled begins to drift, the one who is lost speaks the truth, the one who has drowned rises up. It’s about how the past shapes us, about the debt we owe our blood, even those we barely know. By the end of this gritty, luminous novel, a hard-earned peace settles in—the cabinets emptied, the ashes scattered, mistakes become life. It’s the families we create and gather around us that keep us tethered.”—Nick Flynn, author of This is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire
"A gorgeous and heartbreaking fugue of unforgettable lives—three women bound by loss and family, addiction and pleasure, class and the longing to escape. Claire Cox inhabits the women of this family and their landscapes—all their grief, humor, and desire— with a vital brilliance, and a stunningly humane eye. Cox shines a brave and generous light on life as it is lived in the margins of every heart and every family. This novel is nothing short of pure gift."—Sunil Yapa, author of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist
“Silver Beach speaks with candor and compassion to the sometimes overwhelming weight of the family romance, revealing the courage, doubt, tenderness, cruelty, frailty, and resilience of human nature. The people in Silver Beach are real, their stories artfully, painfully true.”—Sam Michel, author of Strange Cowboy: Lincoln Dahl Turns Five
Claire Cox is a writer and high school teacher originally from San Diego, California. She earned her BA at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA and her MFA at Hunter College in New York City. Her story “Look at You” was a finalist for the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize and was published in the Fall 2020 issue of The Missouri Review; her first novel, Silver Beach, won the Juniper Prize for Fiction and will be published by UMass Press in March 2021. She lives in Manhattan with her family.
John David Becker
"My mother was a pothead, not a drunk: this was important."
"Look At You"
"He watched her through the crack in his bedroom door, not five feet away. He saw his mother stop at the little kitchen table and drop her purse on a chair, her phone in her other hand, and heard the clicks of her long nails as her thumbs tapped the screen. Even when she wasn’t talking, she made noise: earrings, bracelets, gum, the friction of leather jackets against imitation leather pants, the poke of her heels on the apartment’s linoleum. In the overhead light, she looked insignificant, like a stranger."
Read the full story (PDF)
The Missouri Review 43.3 (Fall 2020): "Fighting Back"
WATCH: Claire Cox discusses Silver Beach with Kaitlyn Greenidge at Flintridge Bookstore.
LISTEN: Claire Cox and Clare Needham discuss Silver Beach and the writing life on the Skylight Books podcast.
LISTEN: Claire co-hosts the Dear Prudence Podcast, Slate’s classic advice show, with Danny M. Lavery.
WATCH: Claire Cox in conversation with Kaitlyn Greenidge at Flintridge Bookstore.