In Security

A Novel

By Edward Schwarzschild

Subjects: Fiction
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Hardcover : 9781438480916, 236 pages, October 2020
Paperback : 9781438480923, 236 pages, July 2023

Alternative formats available from:

Part airport thriller, part family drama, part love story, In Security explores how those who strive to protect us are often unable to protect themselves.


Gary Waldman is a grief-stricken former tennis coach slowly reentering the world after the death of his wife. As he struggles to remain a good father to his six-year-old son, Waldman finds unexpected comfort and stability in the rule-bound confines of the TSA, working as a Transportation Security Officer in upstate New York. But his life is turned upside down again after he uses CPR to bring a passenger back from the dead.

Part airport thriller, part family drama, part love story, In Security explores how those who strive to protect us are often unable to protect themselves. Can someone who does security work ever feel truly safe? As the novel races toward its conclusion, Waldman discovers the limits of what he can control, both at the checkpoint and under his own roof.

Edward Schwarzschild is the author of Responsible Men and The Family Diamond. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Believer, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Journal of Criticism, among other publications. At the University at Albany, State University of New York, he is Professor of English, Director of Creative Writing, and Fellow of the New York State Writers Institute.


"…the lived-in details of Gary's life—and Schwarzschild's work in making a fundamentally decent character dramatically compelling—make for an absorbing read." — Kirkus Reviews

"Schwarzschild's dynamic workplace drama serves an ace." — Publishers Weekly

"[Schwarzschild] has given readers a character-driven novel that is part mystery, part thriller, and presciently relevant in today's climate." — New York Journal of Books

"…a combined thriller and workplace and domestic drama … Schwarzschild artfully mixes in storylines involving a possible terrorist plot, an FBI agent brother-in-law, and an affluent man who suffers a heart attack. As father and son come together in their grief, Schwarzschild brings psychological insight that adds to the suspense." — National Book Review

"In Security is the best kind of literary hybrid: a character-driven literary novel that functions like a taut thriller. It's also a book that's strangely in sync with our times, by asking us on every page to assess a threat we can't see." — Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

"A TSA security officer, a family man grieving over his dead wife and fending off love that would replace her, finds himself at the epicenter of deadly serious intrigue in this literary airport thriller. This is strong new work from Edward Schwarzschild, a savvy and gifted novelist." — William Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Ironweed and Roscoe

"In Security takes us on an unforgettable journey through the most painful and transcendent of human experiences, with TSA employee Gary Waldman as our wise, funny guide. Waldman's trek through loss and grief and love reminds us that we're all in danger, and that we're all bound to protect each other, whether it's in our job description or not. Schwarzschild hits the full range of emotions with astonishing sensitivity and skill." — Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge and The Flight Portfolio

"In Security is a work of tremendous humanity, a sincere exploration of love, grief, and healing that feels like a triumph in a time when threat assessment seems more highly valued than kindness and connection. Like the best of Richard Russo's work, this book is funny, it's a page-turner, and it proudly wears its hard-won empathy on its sleeve." — Doug Dorst, author of Alive in Necroplis and S. (with J. J. Abrams)

"Once you read Edward Schwarzschild's compelling new novel, you'll never pass through an airport checkpoint without thinking of his compassionate, troubled TSA hero, Gary Waldman. If all TSA workers were as open-hearted and complex as Schwarzschild's Waldman, the world would be a much better place to inhabit and traveling would be a much more enjoyable experience. Traveling while reading In Security—well, that would be absolutely ideal." — Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Orphan Master's Son and Fortune Smiles

"With expert skill and compassion, Edward Schwarzschild builds a tale of love and grief in the world of airport security, screening our own concepts of safety and sanctuary. Thrilling and poignant, In Security is an unforgettable novel." — Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

Praise for Previous Books
Responsible Men

"From a complicated business deal to a teenager's first kiss, Schwarzschild works with the quiet authority of a master. This is one terrific debut." — Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"Early in Schwarzschild's marvelous debut novel, Max Wolinsky issues a warning: 'Let the buyer beware.' But it's impossible to avoid falling for Max, even if he is a small-time con … That's how appealingly the author has designed our hero, not to mention his cohorts." — Entertainment Weekly

"Responsible Men … takes the generations that separate Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman from David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross and condenses them into one panorama, so that you can see all the way from Willy Loman, 'riding on a smile and a shoeshine,' to Willy's cutthroat contemporary heirs … Schwarzschild writes with compelling insight and emotional power. It is a rare authorial gift." — Chicago Tribune

The Family Diamond

"The trials and tribulations of relationships are at the heart of this collection of nine tales of modern life; sparkling with wit, compassion, and sometimes whimsy, the vivid characters will not be quickly forgotten … Schwarzschild has a hit with his second work; the writing is polished, well paced, and exceptional. Heartily recommended." — Library Journal

"In The Family Diamond … Schwarzschild squarely faces obdurate aspects of life—illness, aging and death—with curiosity, respect and humor. He is the sort of fiction writer whose prose is so lucid, psychology so convincing, characters and action so surprising and intriguing, you forget you're reading." — Chicago Tribune

"Linked by the author's generous attention to his characters and by the mixture of generations and cultures that enrich them, these nine stories sparkle with humor, insight, and heart." — Boston Globe