Shorted-listed for the Balcones Prize.
“This is the Great American Cold War novel. This is a novel of spies and journalists. This is a novel of failures and attempted successes; this is a novel of love and despair and, moreover, this is a novel about family…. Whether it’s the early adventures on Great Tusk Island, the daily work day of He Who Remains Classified, the school years spent at Rokeby School, or the decline of Indianapolis, Woollen keeps the reader occupied but in a way that doesn’t make it seem like he’s fooling or delaying you. They are stories within stories constructed like a finely crafted Matryoshka doll set…. Woollen is able to weave history and fiction in a way that transcends genre. This isn’t a historical fiction novel, it’s not a romance novel, and it’s not even a spy thriller. It’s all of the above and at the same time, none of them. It’s a saga, a personal one stuck in the middle of something bigger…. This is craftsmanship at its finest. This passive thriller, this lengthy epic, may not be for everyone. And that’s fine. But for those readers interested in diving head first into the deepest rabbit holes of our own history, this is one you just can’t miss.” Read more….
—Nick Sweeney for the Atticus Review
“As I expected, this is a delightful novel, with an eccentric but heartwarming cast of characters you cannot help but like …. The characters are warm and compelling, funny and easy to relate to as they struggle with finding their places in family and in the world at large, and Woollen tells their stories with wisdom, compassion and insight …. Recommended for readers who love Americana, humor, quirky ensembles, and an engaging family saga.” Read more ….
“A thoroughly readable narrative …. What makes Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb work is the way it balances the family’s normalcy and the heightened circumstances. That includes the three sons’ diverging paths as each finds a partner, sees his relationship with their parents change, and becomes a generational archetype while remaining a memorable character. This is a unique work, and one that remains interesting all the way through the reveal of its Chekhovian secrets.” Read more ….
—Jeff Fleischer, ForeWord Magazine
“Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb is a book to be read somewhat slowly (or read it twice). Woollen includes a lot of small details, little musings, quick humorous bites that add so much but require careful reading.” Read more ….
–Catherine Ramsdell, Pop Matters
“Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb is smart, mildly ironic, and self-consciously funny. The plot sails along at a clipper’s pace. And there’s a lot to chomp on from our temporal distance: topics ranging from family dynamics, gender roles, government reach, to sexuality.” Read more ….
“In the grand tradition of Hoosier authors Theodore Dreiser and Booth Tarkington, Ian Woollen’s Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb weaves its compelling narrative in personal, romantic, and historical threads from The Cold War to the present day, linking housewives and counter-spies, disgruntled fathers and rebellious sons, creating an indelible American tapestry.”
—Dan Wakefield, author of Going all the Way and New York in the Fifties
“An absorbing, touching, wise, often funny novel. Woollen is a master at writing about families, people’s vulnerabilities, and about mortality itself.”
—James Alexander Thom, author of Follow the River and St. Patrick’s Battalion.
“Famously, Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby concludes that his was a story of the ‘West.’ Ian Woollen, in his grand generational novel Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb, writes another classic ‘Western’ now with reversed polarity. This is a Chekhovian book as well—vivid, epiphanic, rich with secrets intimates keep from each other and then reveal in stunning dramatic fashions. There is a gun too, high caliber, and it goes off. Boy, does it go off with a teeth-rattling BOOM.”
—Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone and Four for a Quarter
“Here again with great verve and admirable nerve is the wily Ian Woollen with a wild and curious saga, told as Vonnegut might have, with the strange shadow of a weapon over the carnival of years. Disco, acid fog, prep school, white gloves, and my favorite sentence: ‘How do you think Anthony would feel to know that his father is the Devil’s Spymaster?’ ”
—Ron Carlson, author of Five Skies and Return to Oakpine