The Friend
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The Friend : Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction

3.84 (5,016 ratings by Goodreads)
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WINNER OF THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD: a moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.

'A true delight: I genuinely fear I won't read a better novel this year' Financial Times

'Delicious ... An intensely pleasurable read because it is so accessible, capacious and clever' Sunday Times

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 unravelling. 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.

"A beautiful book ... a world of insight into death, grief, art, and love." -Wall Street Journal

A New York Times Notable Book of 2018 * A Financial Times 2018 Best Book: Critics Pick * A Buzzfeed Best Book of 2018 * A Bustle Best Fiction Book of 2018 * An NPR Best Book of 2018
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 10mm | 200g
  • Virago Press Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0349012814
  • 9780349012810
  • 343

Review Text

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 New York Times Book Review
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Review quote

This is an intensely pleasurable read because it is so accessible, capacious and clever * Sunday Times * 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 * 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 * [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 poignant reflection on loss and companionship * Marie Claire * 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 * A beautiful book . . . crammed with a world of insight into death, grief, art, and love * Wall Street Journal * In crystalline prose, Nunez creates an impressively controlled portrait of the 'exhaustion of mourning' * New Yorker * 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 * New York Times * 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 * New York Times Book Review *
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About Sigrid Nunez

Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and, most recently, The Friend, which won the National Book Award. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Among the journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Harper's, McSweeney's, Tin House, The Believer and newyorker.com. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including four Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian-American literature.


Sigrid's honors and awards include a Whiting Writer's Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature. The Friend won the 2018 National Book Award. She has taught at Columbia, Princeton, Boston University, and the New School, and has been a visiting writer or writer in residence at Amherst, Smith, Baruch, Vassar, and the University of California, Irvine, among others. In spring, 2019, she will be visiting writer at Syracuse University. Sigrid has also been on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and of several other writers' conferences across the country. She lives in New York City.
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Rating details

5,016 ratings
3.84 out of 5 stars
5 31% (1,547)
4 35% (1,775)
3 24% (1,196)
2 7% (373)
1 2% (125)
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