Upon its initial publication, The Beans of Egypt, Maine became a beloved national bestseller, launching Carolyn Chute’s literary career and clinching her reputation as the preeminent voice of America’s working poor. Hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “startling and original,” The Beans of Egypt, Maine introduced the world to the notorious, unforgettable Bean clan of small town Egypt, Maine—from wild man Reuben, an alcoholic who can’t seem to keep himself out of jail; to his cousins, the perpetually pregnant Roberta, and Beal, a man gentle by temperament but violent in defeat who marries his pious neighbor Earlene Pomerleau before poverty kills him.
As the Beans struggled with their inner demons to survive against hardship and societal ignorance, Chute emerged as a writer of immense humanity and unparalleled insight into a world most of us knew little of—if we’d recognized it at all.
“Chute’s novel pulses with kinetic energy. It seizes the reader on its opening page with a rhythm, a language, a knock-about country humor unmistakably its own.” —Newsweek
“Like Flannery O’Connor, Chute has a gift for expressing the true spirit of a culture but with more subtlety and without overt symbolism. She simply becomes what and whom she sees.” —San Francisco Chronicle