When a New York journalist suffers a horrible accident--his left hand eaten by a lion while reporting on a story from India--witnessed by millions on television, viewers rally to help him.
"Mr. Irving has always had a taste for sprawling, improbable plots, but in his most successful works...he has used his instinctive storytelling gifts to weld all the gimmickry...into resonant moral fables. THE FOURTH HAND, however, never becomes anything more than a collection of farcical episodes strung haphazardly together, an unfortunate throwback to his antic and ham-handed 1981 novel, THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE....Patrick is a cardboard figure who seems to have stepped out of a romance novel or self-help book."
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, 07/03/2001
"Any plot summary of Irving's new novel, THE FOURTH HAND, is likely to reassure his detractors that he has revisited his previous themes and they should steer clear. That would be a shame, since for all its mutilation and moral ranting, it is first and foremost a very sweet love story....Certainly some readers will find Irving's rants about television and television news needlessly long (and long-winded), and there is little in them that hasn't been said before, (in some cases, by Irving himself)....Nevertheless, THE FOURTH HAND is a rich and deeply moving tale, and (in the best sense) vintage John Irving: a story of two very disparate people, and the strange and unexpected ways we may grow."
Chris Bohjalian, Washington Post Book World, 07/01/2001