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Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best Novella
Finalist, Montaigne Medal
It is the morning of September 11th, 2001. Michael Jordan’s possible return to the NBA dominates the news, New York City’s mayoral primary is in full swing, and high atop the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the staff of Windows on the World prepares for the chaos of their daily routine at the nation’s most lucrative restaurant.
From cooks and housekeepers to food runners and managers, they share a myriad of stories about their challenges and frustrations, their hopes and dreams. While a hostess finds herself in the midst of a desperate search for a mysterious guest, a banquet captain confronts his memories about a colleague who died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Meanwhile, a waiter tries to divert himself from his lingering regrets about having left his wife in bed on what would have been his day off. All the while, the assistant general manager finds herself at the mercy of flood and fire, not to mention a host of kitchen pranks and office high jinks.
An extensively researched book based upon the actual people who worked at Windows on the World, The Restaurant at the End of the World will appeal to anyone who has suffered the sudden throes of human tragedy—the loss of a loved one, who, seemingly moments before, was vividly living out their aspirations.
“Flannery O’Connor once claimed that ‘extreme situations best reveal what we are essentially,’ and further, that it is violence that ‘prepares [people] to accept their moment of grace.’ As Kenneth Womack weaves us through the tragic lives of his 28 real-life characters who worked in the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center, the reader is forced to take stock, again and again, of the meaning of his or her own existence—it’s as if we are all poised in Windows on the World. Womack’s words manage to affirm and redeem the legacy of these people’s lives—and perhaps our own as well—in a world in which we cannot be sure of even the next moment. The Restaurant at the End of the World is beautifully written.”—L.E. Kimball, author of A Good High Place
“The characters are doomed. We all know how the story ends. Or do we? In The Restaurant at the End of the World, Kenneth Womack dissects the narrative of 9/11 with a compound eye. Sees the known. Sees the unknown. Sees the unknowable. And that is the novelist’s charge. Get on the elevator. Let Womack take you for a ride.”—Steven Sherrill, author of The Locktender’s House and The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break