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The Last of Her Kind: A Novel Hardcover – December 27, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0374183813 ISBN-10: 0374183813 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374183813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374183813
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,954,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. When Georgette George and Ann Drayton meet in 1968 as freshmen roommates at Barnard College, Georgette marvels that her privileged, brilliant roommate envies Georgette's rough, impoverished childhood. Through the vehicle of this fascinating friendship, Nunez's sophisticated new novel (after For Rouenna) explores the dark side of the countercultural idealism that swept the country in the 1960s. Hyperbolic even for the times, Ann's passionate commitment to her beliefs—unwavering despite the resentment from those she tries to help—haunts Georgette, the novel's narrator, long after the women's lives diverge. In 1976, Ann lands in prison for shooting and killing a policeman in a misguided attempt to rescue her activist black boyfriend from a confrontation. The novel's generous structure also gracefully encompasses the story of Georgette's more conventional adult life in New York (she becomes a magazine editor, marries, and bears two children), plus that of Georgette's runaway junkie sister. Nunez reveals Ann's life in prison via a moving essay by one of her fellow inmates. By the end of this novel—propelled by rich, almost scholarly prose—all the parts come together to capture the violent idealism of the times while illuminating a moving truth about human nature. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Nunez's ruthlessly observed portrait of countercultural America in the sixties and seventies opens in 1968, when two girls meet as roommates at Barnard College. Ann is rich and white and wants to be neither, confiding, "I wish I had been born poor"; Georgette has no illusions about poverty, having just escaped her depressed home town, where "whole families drank themselves to disgrace." Georgette finds Ann at once despicable and mesmerizing, and she's stunned—if not entirely surprised—when, years after the end of their friendship, Ann is arrested for killing a cop. In previous works, Nunez has proved herself a master of psychological acuity. Here her ambitions are grander, and the result is a remarkable and disconcerting vision of a troubled time in American history, and of its repercussions for national and individual identity.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker

More About the Author

Sigrid Nunez was born in New York City, the daughter of a German mother and a Chinese-Panamanian father, whose lives she drew on for part of her first novel, A FEATHER ON THE BREATH OF GOD (1995). She went on to write five more novels, including THE LAST OF HER KIND (2006) and, most recently, SALVATION CITY (2010). She is also the author of SEMPRE SUSAN: A MEMOIR OF SUSAN SONTAG (2011). Her honors include a Whiting Writers' Award, a Rome Prize, a Berlin Prize, and the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Learn more at www.sigridnunez.com.

Customer Reviews

This book was engaging and I would highly recommend it.
Annie H.
Style, story, depth, character development, texture, humor and voice, all just great.
Hunter R. Austin
Excellent character development and use of point of view.
J. Cornish

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Driver9 on November 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The negative reviews are hard for me to figure out. It seems as though I read a different book from some of the reviewers. Ar maybe Amazon got their circuits screwed up. But I felt like I was reading an extraordinary novel about about two women caught up in their time. Anne Drayton emerges as the left wing purist, almost the anti-Holly-Golightly. Her friend/nemesis/mirror and narrator Georgette George diverges from her and yet they are both marked permanently by their time, the 1960s. The portrait of Georgette and her hardscrabble past is completely genuine and excellently developed.

The time of this novel was captured beautifully by Nunez, and it brought back memories I had nearly forgotten. Memories of New York City in the early 1960s, the great rift in the country at that time, the emergence of left wing children of the wealthy. I did not find that the writing was disjointed or that the fragments lacked unity. Especially since the novel spans several decades. It is not a perfect novel, if there is such a thing, but is certainly worthy of more stars than many of the reviewers have stingily doled out. This is a work of great quality and artistry, unlike so many novels that are sensationalized these days and which receive unwarranted accolades as a "good read" (a term that should be banned; whenever I hear someone say it was a good read, instead of a good book or novel, I hear them diminish the writing by commoditizing it, focused only on whether the book pleases them, like some performing dog; it becomes all about the reader and the obsessive need to be reassured; Faulkner or Garcia Marquez or Proust would Not be "good reads")

Anyway, I think this book is one of the best books of 06.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Real Reader on December 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Stylistically written very much in the vein of Philip Roth's great American novels of the 1990s, but importantly diverging from them in content because this is America from a woman's point of view, Sigrid Nunez's The Last of Her Kind connects the large events of our lives with the small and renders the decade of the 1960s with unprecedented wisdom and truth. If you are looking for a TV-type docudrama, this isn't the book for you. If, however, you wish to understand a time that has been sensationalized and often misrepresented-and is here depicted in a way that is closer to how one's own individual consciousness processes and remembers experience--you are in for a powerful ride. Nunez, one of our most innovative and humane writers, has tackled the world in this book: Watch out Franzen, Lethem, et al., there's a girl on the block.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. DAVIDSON on September 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think this must be one of the best novels of 2006--I simply can't believe I haven't read any of Nunez's earlier ones, I'm completely blown away by this subtle & wonderfully compelling novel. It has a sharp interest in morality and ideas that I miss in a lot of contemporary literary fiction; the characters are remarkably well drawn, and the prose exceptional. It brought to mind some of my favorite novelists--Joyce Carol Oates, Rebecca West--while being also very much distinctively like no other novel I've read. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By kamasl on October 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
I got the book because the topic appealed to me: contemporary American history, recounted via the biography of one-time college roommates. And it fascinated me to the very last word.

It turns out the plot is a lot richer than advertised on the bookcover - it gives us a glimpse of so many different aspects of both culture and counterculture in the 60s and 70s by narrating the stories of three women whose lives connect in sometimes strange but altogether credible ways (Georgette, the first person narrator, Ann, her upper class college roommate, and Solange, Georgettes sister). The main narrative is bracketed by contextualizing insights into both the "before" (the 50s) and the "after" (mainly the 90s), resulting in a pretty powerful, essentially non-judgmental description of how American society has changed over the past fifty years.

I find the memoir approach chosen by Nunez appealing, the way it jumps back and forth in the chronology of events, narrating and commenting on them as they are being re-collected by Georgette. This allows for a certain level of detachment and reflexive re-evaluation of events which Nunez is obviously instrumentalizing to show how both social and individual attitudes have evolved over the years. It is by way of this detachment, that the books' strongest point seems to be being made. This is a story about women facing the challenges of life, struggling with them and - each one of them - failing in some ways, succeeding in others, depending on character, disposition and autobiography. And it is specifically by contrasting these three very different women and how differently they were shaped by the same cultural and historical circumstances, that the plot is brought forth - in theory.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hunter R. Austin on July 14, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best novel I've read in 2007. Style, story, depth, character development, texture, humor and voice, all just great. I recommend this book for anyone who has lived those times or wants to get a personal feel what the 60's/70's were all about. Ms. Nunez has the gift of making the reader feel like it's just you and her in the room, and nothing else matters. I finished it in two days and immediately loaned it out to my circle.
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