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The Friend

By: Sigrid Nunez

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Imprint: Riverhead Books

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780735219441

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Electronic | Trade Paperback | Audiobook Download

On Sale: | Pages: 224

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WINNER OF THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTIONNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERONE OF THE VIEW'S SUMMER READ 2019 PICKS!"A beautiful book … a world of insight into death, grief, art, and love." —Wall Street Journal"A penetrating, moving meditation on loss, comfort, memory...Nunez has a wry, withering wit." —NPR"Dry, allusive and charming…the comedy here writes itself.” The New York TimesA moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.
“The Friend” could almost carry a trigger warning for writers, teachers and readers, except that 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.
—New York Times
“The Friend,” Ms. Nunez's seventh novel, is a beautiful book.... The book hovers in the meditative and often amusing realm of its narrator's thoughts, which touch on everything from moral justifications for suicide to the unreliable rewards of the writing life.... It is surprising how few readers know about Ms. Nunez, whose clean, spare sentences often ring like bells. “The Friend,” one hopes, will change this. Cleverly packaged as yet another book about the ennobling affection of a dog, this slim volume is crammed with a world of insight into death, grief, art and love.
—Wall Street Journal
"The Friend" is [Nunez's] attempt to write her way through mourning; it has very little plot and reads as if it could be the author's journal. Who knows, maybe it is � in the book, the possibility that this is a true story, altered only slightly, is tossed out.... As much as this book is about dogs and grief, it is also about writing and writers. Advice and commentary on the writing life from Flannery O'Connor, Joan Didion, Elizabeth Bishop, Martin Amis, James Patterson and many others is presented.... It's more elegant and intellectual than warm and fuzzy, but in the end, it's a dog book, after all.
THE FRIEND is not an easy book to read, emotionally, but it will touch you in myriad ways.
No heartwarming tale of pet ownership, “The Friend” presents a meditation on the raw experience of losing someone who is neither lover nor family yet who occupies a distinctive place in the lives of those left behind.... With enormous heart and eloquence, Nunez explores cerebral responses to loss — processed through the writer's life — while also homing in on the physical burden felt by those left behind.... Nunez offers no easy solutions; instead, she offers the solace that comes from accepting change. Friendship comes with the possibility of great joy and deep sorrow. Surviving suicide throws us into a realm outside words. “The Friend” exposes an extraordinary reserve of strength waiting to be found in storytelling and unexpected companionship.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
It would be wrong to suggest that Sigrid Nunez, a crisply philosophical and undervalued novelist, is preoccupied with animals. But when they do appear in her work, they leave an impression.... “The Friend” is thick with quotations and anecdotes from the lives and work of many writers, in a way that can recall the bird's-nest-made-of-citations novels of David Markson. Nunez deals these out deftly; they do not jam her flow. The snap of her sentences sometimes put me in mind of Rachel Cusk.
—New York Times
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