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William Saroyan

The Laughing Matter

When Evan Nazarenus returns from a teaching post at the summer school in Nebraska, he cannot wait for a couple of blissful weeks spent with his wife and two children in Clovis, a small town where his brother has a summer house. But soon after they arrive for the long awaited holiday, Swan, Evan's wife, announces that she is expecting a child … who is not fathered by Evan. This news shocks and hurts Evan deeply, but for his children's sake he decides to keep it to himself through the holidays they dreamt of for so long. But a family secret of such calibre is difficult to hide and the curious small-town neighbours begin to notice that something is amiss with the couple. The Laughing Matter, first published in 1953, is a disturbing family drama set against the landscape of a small Californian town, with a close-knit community who embrace new-comers with the curiosity of those hungry for gossip. William Saroyan draws his characters with immense sensitivity for human erring and self-inflicted suffering.
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