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Cover image for The friend : a novel
Format:
Title:
The friend : a novel
ISBN:
9780735219441
Publication:
New York, New York : Riverhead Books, 2018.
Physical Description:
212 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Subtitle from dust jacket.
Summary:
"A 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."--Dust jacket.
Electronic Access:
http://www.sigridnunez.com/
Holds:

Available:*

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Nunez, S. Friend
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FICTION - NUNEZ
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Nunez, S.
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FICTION NUNEZ
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Nunez, S.
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Nunez, S.
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Nunez, S.
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Nunez
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FIC NUNEZ
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NUNEZ Sigrid
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Nunez, S.
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On Order

Summary

Summary

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 traumatised 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.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the riveting new novel from Nunez (Salvation City), the unnamed narrator thinks in the second person, addressing an unnamed old friend, a man, who has recently and unexpectedly committed suicide. The two first met decades earlier, while she was his student, the same semester in fact, when a fellow student became "Wife One" of three. While wives and lovers have come and gone, the narrator has remained a constant, friendly intimate of the deceased, a platonic yet intense and complex relationship. Mourning, she begins writing a cathartic elegy that becomes a larger meditation on writing, loss, and various forms of love. Early in the book, Wife Three calls to ask if the narrator will take responsibility for a large Great Dane named Apollo, whom the man had found abandoned in Central Park. Despite the unexpectedness of the request, the narrator takes the dog home, and over the course of the rest of the novel, her love for Apollo both consumes and heals her. 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. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

Quietly brilliant and darkly funny, Nunez's (Sempre Susan, 2011, etc.) latest novel finds her on familiar turf with an aggressively unsentimental interrogation of grief, writing, and the human-canine bond.After her best friend and mentor's suicide, an unnamed middle-aged writing professor is bequeathed his well-behaved beast of a dog. Apollo is a majestic, if aging, Great Dane, whom her friendlike all the human characters, unnamedfound abandoned in Brooklyn and kept, against the rather reasonable protests of his third and final wife. And so, in the midst of her overwhelming grief for the man whose life has anchored hers, the woman agrees to take in the animal, despite the exceedingly clear terms of her rent-stabilized lease. Apollo, too, is grieving, in his doggy wayafter his master's death, he waited by the door round the clock ("you can't explain death to a dog," says Wife Three); now, in the woman's care, he throws himself listlessly on the bed, all 180 pounds of him. And though she is a self-professed cat personnot because she prefers them, but because they are less indiscriminately devoted ("Give me a pet that can get along without me")the two become unlikely companions in mourning, eventually forming the kind of bond Rilke once described as love: "two solitudes that protect and border and greet each other." In contemplating her current situationthe loss, the dogthe woman is oriented by art: not just Rilke but Virginia Woolf, J.M. Coetzee, the relentlessly grim Swedish film Lilya 4-Ever, Joy Williams, Milan Kundera, the British writer J.R. Ackerley in love with his dog. It is a lonely novel: rigorous and stark, so elegantso dismissive of conventional notions of plotit hardly feels like fiction.Breathtaking both in pain and in beauty; a singular book. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

The narrator's friend, a famous writer at the height of a long and successful career, killed himself and left no suicide note. What he did leave was a jealous wife and a Great Dane named Apollo, adopted when the narrator found him abandoned in the park. The wife won't keep the dog. So, driven by guilt and grief, the narrator opts to take him, even at the risk of losing her rent-controlled apartment. She can't bear the idea of another abandonment while she herself feels abandoned. They set off to build a relationship and get through their mutual grief. In rambling streams of consciousness, she recalls her relationship with the writer as a former student, a longtime friend, and a fellow writer. Onlookers wonder at the human-canine friendship, even as the narrator plunges into an existential crisis, examining her own life, writing, and the bond between dogs and humans. Adjusting and adapting, she and Apollo ultimately find comfort and salvation. Nunez (Sempre Susan, 2011) offers an often-hilarious, always-penetrating look at writing, grief, and the companionship of dogs.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

DIRECTORATE S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by Steve Coll. (Penguin, $18.) Coll, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, delves into the miscalculations that guided military campaigns in Afghanistan after 9/11. Washington's strained relationships with the Afghan and Pakistani governments only exacerbated the problems, Coll writes in his excellent, engrossing account. THE FRIEND, by Sigrid Nunez. (Riverhead, $16.) After the suicide of a friend, an unnamed writer living in a tiny apartment inherits his Great Dane. The arrival of the dog - whose size ^ matches the despair she feels - helps allay her sorrow, and the book expands to include meditations on sex, mentorship and the writing life. Nunez's charming novel won the National Book Award in 2018. WE CROSSED A BRIDGE AND IT TREMBLED: Voices From Syria, by Wendy Pearlman. (Custom House/Morrow, $16.99.) Between 2012 and 2016, Pearlman visited Syrian refugees across the Middle East and Europe and collected their stories of the war. Translated and shaped into a narrative by Pearlman, the accounts are a formidable contribution to the body of literature about this nearly-eight-year war. TRENTON MAKES, by Tadzio Koelb. (Anchor, $16.95.) In 1940s New Jersey, a wife kills and dismembers her abusive husband, assumes his identity and carries on living as a man. To complete the transformation, "Abe" finds work in a factory, remarries and even manages to impregnate his new wife. Our reviewer, William Giraldi, called the book "a novel of bewitching ingenuity, one whose darkling, melodic mind conceives a world of ruin and awe, a sensibility cast in sepia or else in a pall of vying grays." WHO WE ARE AND HOW WE GOT HERE: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past, by David Reich. (Vintage, $16.95.) The Harvard scientist uses information extracted from ancient DNAto explain new, and occasionally shocking, facts about our ancestors. The book reconstructs the histories of modern Europeans, Indians, Native Americans, East Asians and Africans, and later, takes up the contentious subjects of race and identity. HAPPINESS, by Aminatta Foma. (Grove, $16.) In London, a Ghanaian psychologist and an American studying the city's foxes collide on a bridge, and their ensuing friendship is deepened by the private grief they each carry. As our reviewer, Melanie Finn, put it, "Forna's finely structured novel powerfully succeeds on a more intimate scale as its humane characters try to navigate scorching everyday cruelties."


Library Journal Review

This is very much a writer's novel. The unnamed narrator is an author who teaches composition, as is the eponymous friend. They met in a college writing class-she a student, he the professor-and he went on to marry another student from the same class. This would be one of his three wives, only referred to as "wife one," "wife two," and "wife three." Wife three was married to the friend when he committed suicide unexpectedly, leaving behind a Great Dane he'd recently adopted. The narrator takes the dog reluctantly and begins a journey of self-discovery. In the hands of many authors, a premise like this would be corny, but Nunez (Salvation City; The Last of Her Kind) has a subtle, ironic tone that makes it work. Was she in love with her friend? Was he a terrible person, or is the narrator exaggerating because he has died? These answers aren't important, and not much happens in terms of plot. Instead, this is a slow, poignant meditation on grief, rife with pithy literary myths and quotations. VERDICT Literature nerds, creative writing students, and dog lovers will find this work delightful. Recommended for literary fiction collections.-Kate Gray, Boston P.L., MA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.