John Irving
In One Person

Book Cover

A compelling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love — tormented, funny, and affecting — and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character of In One Person, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a "sexual suspect," a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 — in his landmark novel of "terminal cases," The World According to Garp.

His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving's In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy's friends and lovers — a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself "worthwhile."

#1 National Bestseller
International Bestseller
Winner of the 2013 Lambda Literary Bisexual Literature Award

"In One Person is a story about memory. Inevitably it is also a story about desire, the most unsettling of our memories. And it is a story about reading yourself through the stories of others... Tolerance, in a John Irving novel, is not about anything goes. It's what happens when we face our own desires honestly, whether we act on them or not." —Jeanette Winterson, New York Times

"This tender exploration of nascent desire, of love and loss, manages to be sweeping, brilliant, political, provocative, tragic, and funny — it is precisely the kind of astonishing alchemy we associate with a John Irving novel. The unfolding of the AIDS epidemic in the United States in the '80s was the defining moment for me as a physician. With my patients' deaths, almost always occurring in the prime of life, I would find myself cataloging the other losses — namely, what these people might have offered society had they lived the full measure of their days: their art, their literature, the children they might have raised. In One Person is the novel that for me will define that era. A profound truth is arrived at in these pages. It is Irving at his most daring, at his most ambitious. It is America and American writing, both at their very best." —Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

"Irving is a master at getting his sense of place to feel special. Much like Faulkner had the fabricated Yoknapatawpha County, and Thomas Hardy, Wessex County, Irving has his own territory. First Sister is a highly entertaining, zany version of New England, populated by eccentrics in snappy scenes that make even the book's most devastating moments, such as those dealing with AIDS, a strange joy to read." —National Post

"As ever with Irving, we get plenty of story for our money, as he traces Bill, his family, friends and lovers from the Forties to the present day — and with them, the evolution of American sexuality... Throughout the novel, Irving also pulls off his customary, but still highly impressive, trick of investing his fiction with the status of a myth... In One Person remains a big, entertaining and unstintingly generous read, bulging with incident and able to make every member of its large cast entirely memorable." —The Telegraph

"Even in his early work, Irving treated readers to sexual leaps and gender surprises. The author's stylistic virility has always depended on performance-enhancing devices that literary fiction tried to outlaw years ago — big-hearted, Dickensian contrivances — and, at seventy, he is waving a rainbow flag on this latest trip over the top." —The New Yorker

"This searching, deeply affecting novel... reaffirms the centrality of Irving as the voice of social justice and compassion in contemporary American literature. His work has been indispensable over the past four decades, and it will prove more important, more urgently resonant and more prescient, in the decades to come." —Steven Hayward, The Globe and Mail

"At once intimate and epic, broadly funny and emotionally piercing... Irving is simply doing what he has always done, and what he does best: telling a bold, quirky, fundamentally human story, bigger than life." —The Vancouver Sun

"Irving at his best: unbearably sad, unforgettably narrated, painfully human." —USA Today

"In One Person is a novel that makes you proud to be human. It is a book that not only accepts but also loves our differences. From the beginning of his career, Irving has always cherished our peculiarities in a fierce, not a saccharine, way. Now he has extended his sympathies — and ours — still further into areas that even the misfits eschew. Anthropologists say that the interstitial-whatever lies between two familiar opposites — is usually declared either taboo or sacred. John Irving in this magnificent novel — his best and most passionate since The World According to Garp — has sacralized what lies between polarizing genders and orientations. And have I mentioned it is also a gripping page-turner and a beautifully constructed work of art?" —Edmund White, author of The Farewell Symphony and A Boy's Own Story

Length: 448 pp
Genre: Literary fiction
Setting: New England
Period: 1950s to present
Publication Date: May 8, 2012

Canadian (English) rights, Knopf/Random House Canada
UK rights, Transworld
US rights, Simon & Schuster

For all other rights contact The Turnbull Agency.

John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times — winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. He also received an O. Henry Award, in 1981, for the short story "Interior Space."

In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules — a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In One Person is John Irving's thirteenth novel.

  • Last Night in Twisted River
  • A Sound Like Someone Trying Not to Make A Sound
  • The Fourth Hand
  • My Movie Business
  • A Widow for One Year
  • The Imaginary Girlfriend
  • A Son of the Circus
  • Trying to Save Piggy Sneed
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • The Cider House Rules
  • The Hotel New Hampshire
  • The World According to Garp
  • The 158-Pound Marriage
  • The Water-Method Man
  • Setting Free the Bears