A.J. Fikry

Fikry PB FIkry US

A New York Times Best Seller, the #1 Indie Next Pick, and the #1 Library Reads Selection

An international best seller, translated into 32 languages

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books—and booksellers—that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.  

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

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April 2014

See Me on Tour

A Library Journal Top Ten Best Book of 2014

Winner, Booksellers Prize in the Category of Best Foreign Fiction (Japan)

Winner, Southern California Independent Booksellers Fiction Award

Longlisted, International Dublin Literary Award

“This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love–love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry reminds us what saves us all from a life of loneliness and isolation: our sense of empathy; our ability to love and be loved; our willingness to care and be cared for. Gabrielle Zevin has written a wonderful, moving, endearing story of redemption and transformation that will sing in your heart for a very, very long time.” —Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is a breezy, big-hearted treat, especially if you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of America’s national treasures–neighborhood bookstores.” —Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins 

I read this book in one big greedy gulp. A charming and funny love letter to the written word – it will leave you smiling and with a large lump in your throat.” —Natasha Solomons, author of The House at Tyneford

“Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engaging and funny without being cloying or sentimental. On top of all that, it is marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.” —The Washington Post

…a powerful novel about the power of novels, but there is nothing outsize or metatextual about it, no cloying literary in-jokes or philosophical digressions: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a book for people who love books, who recognize a story well-told for what it is, and for the power it contains.” —Robert J. Wiersema, The Toronto Globe and Mail

“Fikry and his motley group of friends and family are easy to cheer for. . . . Much like Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, this book could easily become a dark-horse bestseller. It is, after all, quite charming.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A beautiful story about getting a second chance at love. A-” —The A. V. Club 

“A love letter to the joys of reading.” —NPR

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry has a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance, but is at its core a love story: love of books, love of family, love of community. It is as enchanting a book as you will read this year.”BookPage

This is not a novel to miss. If you love books, old bookstores and perfectly human characters living ordinary lives, you will love this book. As a matter of fact, I think I just may have to read it again.”—The Roanoke Times

“Anyone who loves books, bookstores and the world that reading opens up will love this book.”—The Wichita Eagle

“Wade into summer reading with this sweet yet soulful tale of love, loss, the power of friendship–and books. Like sunshine on a breezy spring day, you won’t want it to end.” —Family Circle 

“[A] jaunty little novel.” —Entertainment Weekly

Zevin…is in fine form with a memorable tale about life, love, risk-taking and growth.”—Lansing State Journal

Funny, tender, and moving, it reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love.”—Starred, Library Journal

“In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books . . . Filled with interesting characters, a deep knowledge of bookselling, wonderful critiques of classic titles, and very funny depictions of book clubs and author events, this will prove irresistible to book lovers everywhere.” —Booklist

“Surprisingly expansive… Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining . . . A likable literary love story about selling books and finding love.” —Kirkus Reviews

“I don’t appreciate the position I’m in with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I resent the skill and verve that Ms. Z. shows in this quirky, punchy novel. I don’t like that it’s so readable, so appealing. I disdain its damnable charm, its succinctness, its crisp, clear tone! AAAUGH! . . . VERDICT: This lightning fast read is super-enjoyable; hide it inside a Popular Mechanics.” —Library Journal‘s Books for Dudes blog

fikry on audio

Listen to the audiobook, read by Scott Brick


“Barbara Hoffert Talks to Gabrielle Zevin; April LibraryReads | Spotlight” – An interview about A.J. Fikry for Library Journal

US: Algonquin

Canada: Penguin

UK: Little, Brown (as The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry)

Brazil (Companhia das Letras), Bulgaria (Kragozor), China Simplified (Dook), Croatian (Lumen), Czech (Argo), Denmark (Lindhart og Ringhof), Finland (Gummerus), France (Fleuve Noir), Germany (Diana/Random House), Hungary (Agave), Iceland (Forlagid), Indonesia (Gramedia), Israel (Keter), Italy (Nord),  Japan (Hayakawa), Korea (Munhakdogne), Latvia (Baibabooks) Netherlands (Atlas/Contact), Norway (Silke), Poland (GW Foksal), Portugal (Self), Romania (Nemira), Russia (Sindbad), Serbia (Laguna), Spain (Lumen), Sweden (Forum), Taiwan (BWP), Thailand (Amarin), Turkey (Timas), Ukraine (Vivat), Vietnam (IPM)

Book Trailer (Italian!)

86 thoughts on “A.J. Fikry

  1. On the recommendation of a friend who loved this story she has prompted me to provide you feedback on the audio book so here goes.

    Scott Brick has managed to make the entire sequence of events that happens to Fikry seem extremely boring and tedious, even though that is anything but the case. He portrays every character as an emotionless Vulcan. His delivery reminds me so much of a bored John Malkovich. I’m sure if I read this myself without it being dictated to me I’d probably like this story. I know I won’t read it though, and so I’ll carry on to the end to find out what happens, but his tone throughout the book is actually distracting. It seems like this voice actor is either a boring person in general, or he found this story to be boring. Either way, it does your work a great disservice and I can’t believe this went out into the world as a finished product.

    1. Hi Skampie, I’m sorry you feel that way, and it’s interesting to me (and perhaps tautological to mention) how much the audio performance and the reader’s interpretation can influence the way one feels about a book. I know I have had this experience several times. There are, for instance, several voices that I find entirely sleep-inducing. (which can of course be a good thing from time to time!) For the record, I LOVED Scott Brick’s performance. I thought he captured much of the humor of the novel and the main character — so, as the author, I will say that his choices and tone definitely worked for me. I suspect Scott was not bored, as he as told me several times that Fikry is one of his favorite books he ever read — he’s a veteran, award-winning reader of audio books, with several hundred titles to his credit, by the way. This isn’t to discredit your opinion, but to perhaps slightly discredit the notion that no one cared about the product they were making. Thank you for a fascinating comment! –Gabrielle

      1. I really enjoyed this book! I also listened to the audio version. I struggled with the first cd. AJ was depressed, Scott Brick’s narration showed that depression. I was getting sad listening to it; I thought about stopping after the first cd. Then I decided to keep listening. I am so glad I did! As an African-American I read a lot of fiction by African-American authors. I have recently started to branch out to authors for which I have no knowledge. Am I happy to have found a new author to read.

    2. I feel the same. the audio performance seems tedious at first. BUT then I adjusted the player to play the audio at 1.2X and it transformed the experience for me 🙂
      A Great Book!

  2. I know this is a little late, but I think I’ve found this book at a perfect time. I would like to thank you Gabrielle, you have blessed us with a gift. If I can ever come up with anything close, I will be utterly pleased, complete even. I think that maybe I’d forgotten what an amazing piece of work can do to you, but now I remember! It makes you search for the author just to say how much you appreciate every effort put into each sentence.
    P.s I don’t say this much, but I’m positively positive that I will be reading this chef d’oeuvre (because that’s my thought of it. Even though I’m somewhat of a snob who knows little about anything, I believe that if you’ve made someone think about something hard enough, you’ve accomplished something on this world. After all, we can only expect so much of life. Don’t know if this is confusing or not… ha ha(awkward laugh)) more times in the days I have to spend on this Earth. Kudos for breaking, crashing, demolishing my heart.

    I cannot say this enough but,
    Thank you

  3. Hello Ms Zevin,
    I am trying to find some good discussion questions for your book “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” as I’m in charge of our local book club. We have scheduled your book for next April, but I get all these organized ahead of time since we have guest discussion leaders each month. Is there any chance you might come up with some interesting questions that would help us out?
    I would be forever grateful!
    M. Ann Lynch,
    Marathon, FL

    1. After trying to hear Scott Brick (he often drops his soft voice so as to be almost inaudible) on the CD, I read the book. What a wonderful difference.
      Unfortunately, A.J.’s voice will remain that of a grouch in my mind because of the CD. I have strong and hurtful childhood and adult memories of grouches in my life. A.J.’s story teaches us to tell our loved ones how we feel while we are able.
      Fortunately, the rest of the characters were alive and moving forward in positive directions.
      I truly loved your book and will relate this at the club meeting.
      Thank you for your talent and service to your readers.

      1. Ah, I have heard quite a few thoughts about Scott Brick’s performance — I loved it, by the way! However, I do apologize that it triggered such hurtful memories of grouches for you. The only grouch I know of is Oscar the…, and mainly I pity him — he lives in a garbage can; his friend is a worm. Best wishes with your book club, GZ

  4. Hi,
    I’m a bookseller in Australia. I have sold 25 copies of this book to date as I love it so much but I’m having trouble filling my new order. I was told it may be out of print? Is there a publisher here that I can get hold of to make things easier? Thank you

  5. I really enjoyed the book and was so relieved (and even got a little teary) at the end with the introduction of Jacob. It was such a wonderful optimistic moment! I do have one question that I wondered about through the entire book and was surprised that it wasn’t addressed in the conversation or the question sections. Why do the three main characters have such similar name (same three letters): Amy, Maya, and Ismay? I hope they weren’t supposed to be different aspects of the same person (?)

  6. Loved loved loved The Storied Life of A.J. Fiery! I am an avid reader and have not always felt this way about many books. I did not want to put it down and when I had no choice, lifes demands can be so mundane, I could not wait to pick it up and read more. Loved the story line, loved the how I could feel what the characters were feeling, loved the flow of the story!

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