- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Riverhead Books; 1st Edition edition (February 6, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780735219441
- ISBN-13: 978-0735219441
- ASIN: 0735219443
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 54 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Friend: A Novel Hardcover – February 6, 2018
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“The contemplation of writing and the loss of integrity in our literary life form the heart of the novel...Nunez’s prose itself comforts us. Her confident and direct style uplifts—the music in her sentences, her deep and varied intelligence. She addresses important ideas unpretentiously and offers wisdom for any aspiring writer who, as the narrator fears, may never know this dear, intelligent friend—or this world that is dying. But is it dying? Perhaps. But with The Friend, Nunez provides evidence that, for now, it survives.” —The New York Times Book Review
"Charming... the comedy here writes itself... the novel's tone in general, however, is mournful and resonant... The snap of her sentences sometimes puts me in mind of Rachel Cusk." —The New York Times
“In crystalline prose, Nunez creates an impressively controlled portrait of the ‘exhaustion of mourning.’” —The New Yorker
“Everywhere in this novel it is impossible to separate love and companionship from loss...The Friend is one of those rare novels that, in the end, makes your heart beat slower.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“A beautiful book … crammed with a world of insight into death, grief, art, and love.” —Wall Street Journal
"A penetrating, moving meditation on loss, comfort, memory, what it means to be a writer today, and various forms of love and friendship... Nunez has a wry, withering wit.” —NPR
“The book is an intimate, beautiful thing, deceptively slight at around 200 pages, but humming with insight… [an] artfully discursive meditation on friendship, love, death, solitude, canine companionship and the life of an aging writer in New York. Far from being heavy going, this novel, written as a letter to the late friend, is peppered with wry observations, particularly those of a writer stuck teaching undergraduates.” –The Economist
“In this slim but pitch-perfect novel, a writer loses her best friend and mentor suddenly without explanation…Wry and moving, The Friend is a love story, a mania story, and a recovery story.” —Vanity Fair
“A poignant reflection on loss and companionship.” —Marie Claire
“[A] sneaky gut punch of a novel…a consummate example of the human-animal tale…The Friend’s tone is dry, clear, direct—which is the surest way to carry off this sort of close-up study of anguish and attachment.” —Harper's Magazine
“A wry riff on Rilke’s idea of love as two solitudes that ‘protect and border and greet each other.’”—Vogue
"With enormous heart and eloquence, Nunez explores cerebral responses to loss… The Friend exposes an extraordinary reserve of strength waiting to be found in storytelling and unexpected companionship.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Often as funny as it is thoughtful, The Friend is an elegant meditation on grief, friendship, healing, and the bonds between humans and dogs." —Buzzfeed
“A serious book about a big sloppy dog, Nunez’s seventh novel… displays the intellectual heft of her late friend’s work, but also a distinctive sense of humor and narrative momentum.” —Vulture
“A brilliant examination of the writer’s life, literary friendship, mortality, bereavement, and our relationship to animals. The novel is not easily summarized; the true rewards of this reading experience are the crystalline prose… Readers will also savor the surprising shifts in narrative focus.” —The Rumpus
"An elegant and darkly humorous meditation on grief and companionship, it's a great read — whether or not you're obsessed with canines.” —Shondaland.com
“Sigrid Nunez’s novel delivers an enthralling, emotional tale.” —Paste Magazine
"The Friend is proof that what we lack is itself a vital part of life — and that loss can lead to meaningful connections found in unlikely places. Sometimes it can take an animal to make a person understand their own humanity. And sometimes a book as unexpected as The Friend can provide as much comfort as any canine companion.” —B&N Review
“Quietly brilliant and darkly funny… [The Friend is] rigorous and stark, so elegant—so dismissive of conventional notions of plot—it hardly feels like fiction. Breathtaking both in pain and in beauty; a singular book.” —Kirkus, starred review
“Riveting… This elegant novel explores both rich memories and day-to-day mundanity, reflecting the way that, especially in grief, the past is often more vibrant than the present.” —Publishers Weekly
“Light, musing, curious, and somehow wonderfully sturdy.” –Vivian Gornick for Bookforum
“Brilliant but informal, sad yet laugh-out-loud funny… This beautiful, spare, work will not disappoint.” –Bookpage
“Nunez offers an often-hilarious, always-penetrating look at writing, grief, and the companionship of dogs.” —Booklist
"The joys of this novel lie in Nunez’s striking capacity to describe the world and its inhabitants, both human and animal. Nunez is a keen observer of behavior, and throughout the text she plants wonderful nuggets that immediately ring true yet still manage to be surprising.” —Michigan Daily
“A slow, poignant meditation on grief, rife with pithy literary myths and quotations… Literature nerds, creative writing students, and dog lovers will find this work delightful. Recommended for literary fiction collections.” —Library Journal
“Nunez’s story of a dog and his inadvertent caregiver is a darkly humorous and unsentimental tale of friendship, mourning, and solace.”—Electric Lit
“The intensity and elegance of The Friend mean two things—you cannot put it down and you will cry. In a novel about loss and the loneliness of writing and imagination, Sigrid Nunez creates an irresistible tale of love and an unforgettable Great Dane. A beautiful, beautiful book—the most original canine love story since My Dog Tulip.” —Cathleen Schine, bestselling author of They May Not Mean To, But They Do
About the Author
Sigrid Nunez is the author of the novels Salvation City, The Last of Her Kind, A Feather on the Breath of God, and For Rouenna, among others. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. She has been the recipient of several awards, including a Whiting Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. Nunez lives in New York City.
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There are long passages about writing as an act, as an art, and as a therapy, it’s meaning, it’s burdens and its responsibilities. These became a little tedious to me; I do like a bit of a plot. You won’t find one here.
The relationship with the dog is what I liked best. It is a poignant one. The dog is old and failing. Between the suicide and the old dog, there is much meditation on death and loss. I found the book quite sad but then, I am a terrific sucker for a dog.
This is the first book I've read by Sigrid Nunez, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.
I'm ashamed to admit that I'd never even heard of Nunez before I read *The Friend*. I caught an interview with her on NPR around the time the book debuted. She was so smart and charming and eloquent, I thought I'd give the novel a shot. I was very, very pleasantly surprised.
For starters, Nunez is an outstanding writer. Her turns of phrase leave most authors I know in the dust. And yet, she manages to wow the reader without being showy. Her sentences pack a punch, whether or not you majored in English lit.
Also, the third major character is a dog. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a sucker for dogs. Nunez captures the personality of her curious new friend perfectly, and their slowly blossoming love story is...well, it's better than most I can name.
First, the bad. The publishers deserve the firing squad, except since they DID have the good sense to publish the book, they get one star (and the author loses one). This is not a young adult book or one destined to be a best-seller, it's a book for lovers of fiction and the art and craft of writing it. So why, since most of its readers will be individuals wearing glasses, publish it in a font so small and with contrast so weak that some sort of magnification may well prove necessary? They'll have a chance, when preparing the paperback edition, to do better, and I'm writing this solely to encourage them to do that: MAKE IT READABLE.
Second, the good. This is an important book. The author has created something original and, by its end, revelatory of how fiction comes to be - indeed, of what fiction IS. The prose style is dry, never poetic. (It's not 'academic' dry, it's 'journalistic' dry.) The plot is slight, and the digressions are many. But it's not - not ever - dull; there's not a wasted word in it. The pace is slow, but it's too interesting to put down. 3/4 of the way through, the author takes the reader on a detour that I was pretty sure was going to turn out to have been a bad idea. It wasn't; she knew exactly what she was doing. It turns out she's a fisherman (fisherperson?) who has been quietly letting out her nets all along, and when she hauls them in, her catch is bountiful. I'm impressed enough with "The Friend" that I'm changing the syllabus for a seminar I'll teach next fall, replacing a tried and true novel with this one, because it's such fine work. Brava, Signora Nunez!
Five stars for the author - minus one for the publisher. PLEASE do better with the next edition; this is an important book!