The World According to Garp is a comic and compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers of his generation. A worldwide bestseller
since its publication in 1978, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her time. Beyond that, The World According to Garp virtually defies
"Nothing in contemporary fiction matches it," said critic Terrence Des Pres. "Irving's blend of gravity and play is unique, audacious, almost blasphemous. . . . Friendship, marriage and family are his primary themes, but at that blundering level of life where mishap and folly--something close to joyful malice--perpetually intrude and disrupt, often fatally. Life, in Irving's fiction, is always under siege." Time magazine commented: "Irving's popularity is not hard to understand. His world is really the world according to nearly everyone."