Sunrise at the American Market

by Andrew F. Popper

Tags: Literature

Table of Contents (PDF)

272 pp  $19.95

ISBN 978-1-61163-818-9
eISBN 978-1-5310-0554-2

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Six years ago, a group of complete strangers began to gather each morning for coffee in a convenience store, The American Market, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. In that modest and unsuspecting place, a community was born leading to friendships and commitment unlike anything they had known before. The bonds between members of the group solidified one morning when Henry, the proprietor of the Market, removed the entire rack of goods in the front of the store and replaced them with a table and six folding chairs. It was Henry, a political refugee, who organized the group and turned his otherwise plain and predictable convenience store into a salon, a place where all topics, both serious and inane, were, quite literally, on the table. Over time, the Market became that safe place we all seek, a place freed of judgment and guilt, liberated from one's externally imposed identity. In that extraordinary setting things begin to happen. Each character seated around the table has their own story, connected with and separate from their mornings at the Market. They face challenges with money, relationships, the nature and shape of their community, and overshadowing the group, the encroaching reality of an insurmountable medical crisis. Questions of fidelity, fate, and compassionate life termination become central and transformative. Ultimately, the sunrise group becomes that best of all families, a family of choice, as the Market emerges as a true home, central to each character, essential to their best and most decent hopes.

"Once in a great while a book bewitches me so thoroughly that its later recollection comes to me as though I had been IN the book. I am for a moment surrounded by the world and experiences of the characters, until the more sober portion of my memory reminds that it was only a book I read, not a place I once visited. Usually books that have this effect are of the vivid swashbuckling variety — seafaring epics or sweeping historical narratives. Rarely, a quieter story will carry this same disorienting whisper of lived experience. Anne Tyler's work sometimes does, and Richard Ford's — and so does this remarkable novel of time, friendship, and place by Andy Popper. Read the book for its many pleasures; as a bonus the ghostly aroma of the market's coffee will arrive every time you think of the story. As you will, many times." — Marianne Wesson, Professor of Law and author of Render Up the Body, A Suggestion of Death, Chilling Effect, and A Death at Crooked Creek

"Pull up a chair and spend some time with the regulars at the American Market as they work their way through coffee, apples, morning pastry, and some of life's most compelling issues. This unusually personal tale of transformation will charm you, trouble you, and make you laugh. By the time you're done, you'll have a group of friends you'll never forget." — Rangeley Wallace, Clinical Professor and author of No Defense and Things Are Going to Slide

"In this novel brimming with life and humanity, Popper explores some of the most challenging legal issues confronting our society today, from compassionate life termination to same-sex marriage. But at the heart of Sunrise at the American Market is a deeply moving, beautifully observed meditation on the role of friendship and community in our lives." — Janie Chuang, Professor of Law and author of multiple works published in journals at Harvard University, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and others; former adviser to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Labor Organization

"Popper's easy and adroit story-telling belies a compelling exploration of the important stories lurking behind a cast of apparently ordinary characters in an apparently ordinary setting. A thoughtful, provocative, engaging read." — Donald R. Levy, author of multiple works; CEO of the higher education consulting group, The Rochelle Organization, Inc., Washington, DC

"In many ways, given that Charlie is the central character, this is a novel unlikely to have been written by anyone other than a lawyer. The author, Andrew F. Popper, is a Professor at American University's Washington College of Law, and his legal expertise takes an increasingly important role as the novel progresses. (In his "Discussion Guide," Popper cites a score of law review articles and legal cases, along with a host of novels that address many of the issues in his novel.) But this is not to say the book is a dry, legal brief. Far from it. In simple, yet elegant, language, Popper — through Charlie's voice — has created a fascinating account of the creation of a unique family and has managed to do so with moments of unexpected humor ... Sunrise at the American Market is a book well worth reading." — Bruce J. Berger, FOLIO Literature Journal