Best Books of 2008, January Magazine
Top Five Books of 2008, The Advocate
City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Reads Selection, 2013
Jun Nakayama was a silent film star in the early days of Hollywood. By 1964, he is living in complete obscurity, until a young writer, Nick Bellinger, tracks him down for an interview. When Bellinger reveals that he has written a screenplay with Nakayama in mind, Jun is intrigued by the possibility of returning to movies. But he begins to worry that someone might delve too deeply into the past, and uncover the events that led to the abrupt end of his career in 1922. These events include the changing social and racial tides in California—and the unsolved murder of his favorite director, Ashley Bennett Tyler.
Spurred on by his fear of a potential “misunderstanding,” Jun begins to track down his surviving acquaintances from his years as Perennial Pictures’ greatest star. In the process, he recounts the lives of several other figures from the silent film era: Elizabeth Banks, the working class girl from St. Louis who becomes a major Hollywood diva. Nora Minton Niles, the dreamy, childlike teenage actress controlled by her ambitious mother. Hanako Minatoya, the elegant actress and playwright who serves as Jun’s inspiration and foil. And Ashley Bennett Tyler, the British director whose guiding hand turns Jun into a star. But what Jun ultimately discovers is far more complex and personal than even he could have imagined.
The Age of Dreaming alternates between the 1960’s and the height of the silent film era. It is also the story of a man caught between worlds. Jun must try to please both his Japanese and American fans, and while he is adored by moviegoers—especially women—he’s despised by public officials, who see him as a threat to American power and racial purity.
The Age of Dreaming explores the history of Los Angeles, the heady beginnings of the movie industry, and the interplay of race and celebrity. It is part historical novel, part mystery, and part story of unfulfilled love, all told through the voice of a forgotten star who must gradually come to terms with his past.
“Nina Revoyr…is fast becoming one of the city’s finest chroniclers and mythmakers.”
— Los Angeles Magazine
“Ingenious… hums with the excitement of Hollywood’s pioneer era.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Fast-moving, riveting, unpredictable, and profound….Highly recommended.”
— Library Journal
“Rare indeed is a novel this deeply pleasurable and significant.
“Revoyr beautifully invokes Jun’s self-deceptions and his growing self-awareness. An enormously satisfying novel.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Quietly powerful…settles to a close as deftly and beautifully as a crane landing on quiet water.”
— L.A. Weekly
“The star of Nina Revoyr’s third novel, The Age of Dreaming, is ostensibly Jun Nakayama…but the book’s real luminary is Los Angeles. Revoyr resurrects the old old Hollywood, from the time before talkies, and dreams it into existence once again.”
“A pulse-quickening, deliciously ironic serving of Hollywood noir.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“(Revoyr’s) evocation of Little Tokyo and Hollywood in the teens is superb. Her characters live and breathe, and her novel is exhilarating.”
— Leonard Maltin
“…an amazing portrait of the silent film era, Los Angeles, and the strictures and lasting effects of prejudice. It’s also a fabulous mystery! Everyone I’ve recommended it to has loved it. Consider this an undiscovered treat.”
–Lisa See, author of Shanghai Girls
“The Age of Dreaming is a brilliant and original novel about Hollywood in the days of silent films. The carefully restrained voice of its narrator, once a famous film star, recalls Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day—but in his past, it turns out, there was also passion, madness, and murder.”
–Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Foreign Affairs and The War Between the Tates
“With Nabokov-worthy sentences, characters so real our hearts begin to beat with theirs, and a story as deeply mysterious and riveting as any the Hollywood it conjures up could have created, The Age of Dreaming is a masterpiece of the sort that doesn’t just seduce the reader – it leaves them transformed. Possessed of stunning vision and an elegance all her own, Nina Revoyr deserves to be counted among the top rank of novelists at work today. Film-lovers – and lovers of literature – will willingly lose themselves in this haunting, heartfelt epic of race, genius, passion, memory and a Hollywood few have ever seen before.”
–Jerry Stahl, author of I, Fatty and Permanent Midnight
“A riveting, wise, and gorgeous novel — rich in the social nuances of L.A.’s silent film era and profoundly moving, often heartbreaking, in its exploration of the rise and fall of human lives.”
–Mary Yukari Waters, author of The Laws of Evening