Objects of Desire

Objects of Desire

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Named a 'Most Anticipated Book of 2021' by Lit Hub and The Millions

'Sestanovich's elegant prose takes seriously the quiet unrest that can ravage a life' - Raven Leilani, author of Luster
'Astonishing - one of the best story collections I've read in a long time' Brandon Taylor, Booker-shortlisted author of Real Life

A college freshman, flying home, strikes up an odd, ephemeral friendship with the couple next to her on the airplane. A long-lost stepbrother's visit to New York prompts a reckoning with a family's old taboos. An office worker, exhausted by the ambitions of the men around her, emerges into the gridlocked city one afternoon to make a decision. A wife, looking at her husband's passwords neatly posted on the wall, realizes there are no secrets left in their marriage.

In these eleven short stories, thrilling desire and melancholic yearning animate women's lives - from the brink of adulthood, to the labyrinthine path between twenty and thirty, to middle age, when certain possibilities quietly elapse. With powerful observation and mordant humour, Clare Sestanovich opens up a fictional world where intimate and uncomfortable truths lie hidden in plain sight.

Objects of Desire is a book pulsing with subtle drama, rich with unforgettable scenes and alive with moments of recognition, each more startling than the last - a spellbinding, brilliant debut.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 20mm | 337g
  • Picador
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1529053552
  • 9781529053555
  • 335,589

Review quote

Sestanovich's elegant prose takes seriously the quiet unrest that can ravage a life, and makes room for the pleasure and discovery that can be found in that ruin -- Raven Leilani, author of Luster Sublimely polished . . . If it sometimes feels as if we get no closer to these immaculately drawn characters than the eavesdropper on the next table, it's worth noting that they're partly estranged from their own lives, or at least from the moments that Sestanovich captures so commandingly. In this way, her pleasurable, discrete dramas achieve something extra: along with their acute social observations and pithy elegance, they collectively probe the gap between how we're seen and how we might long to appear. -- Hephzibah Anderson * Observer * Sestanovich's steady hand and bone-clean prose recall such foremothers as Joan Didion, Zadie Smith, and Jhumpa Lahiri . . . She revitalizes James Joyce's style of 'scrupulous meanness'-depicting the setting and inhabitants of her narratives in an ultrarealistic, if sometimes unforgiving, light. Moments of epiphany, or at least self-understanding, accompany everyday activities. . . . Sestanovich engages self-consciously with a matriarchal literary lineage. She weaves each narrative around universal trials of womanhood. Through hysterectomies, miscarriages, and unstable relationships, her cast of canny protagonists come to terms with their wants and needs -- Elinor Hitt * The Paris Review * Sestanovich is an extraordinary noticer. Carefully, sparely, she parses layers of feeling and attitude; of the tiny ways we admit or refuse love; of incremental, almost invisible, losses of self * Guardian * Bold and beguiling -- Chloe Aridjis, author of Book of Clouds The summer's most buzzed about book is the debut short story collection by Clare Sestanovich . . . Each is a small insight into the lives of women, some on the brink of adulthood, others navigating later years * Sunday Times * As far as writing pedigrees go, it doesn't get much more impressive than The New Yorker and The Paris Review - so it's no surprise that journalist Clare Sestanovich's first anthology contains eleven tightly-edited, perfectly-observed vignettes, all with women of various ages at their core . . . The tone throughout is cool and detached, which makes Sestanovich's characters - some named, some anonymous - even more potent as they face a cacophony of modern relationship issues . . . A smart, incisive look at the complexities of being a woman right now * Stylist * Smart and accomplished . . . Sestanovich's prose is poised and understated, sensorily precise . . . [Her characters] are wryly astute in their assessments of others; it is a pleasure to see the world through their sharp eyes. Sestanovich's gift is to make ordinary moments shine brightly * The New York Times Book Review * Astonishing - one of the best story collections I've read in a long time . . . I feel like I've found a new favorite writer - Clare Sestanovich is stylish and skilled, an astute chronicler of contemporary life -- Brandon Taylor, Booker-shortlisted author of Real Life Nuanced, beautifully shaped . . . In Sestanovich's hands, the mundane feels surprising-mesmerizing, even * Refinery29 * Clare Sestanovich's stories compelled me like gravity, and offered sharp, surprising, singular bursts of grace -- Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering and The Empathy Exams Sparingly told, evoked with lacerating intimacy, these stories explode across the fault lines of the small decisions that make a life . . . Extraordinary * Esquire * Clare Sestanovich is a gifted observer and writes a sentence sharp enough to cut yourself on . . . A magnificent debut -- Nathan Englander, author of Dinner at the Center of the Earth A debut story collection of the rarest kind: One in which you wish that every single entry could be an entire novel. Sestanovich, who works for The New Yorker, takes seemingly everyday situations (a young woman flying home, a couple cohabitating in a small apartment) and goes in deep to reveal the sort of universal truths about society that we're always hungering for * Entertainment Weekly * Objects of Desire is a marvel . . . I loved this book -- Miranda Popkey, author of Topics of Conversation Luminous . . . Sestanovich writes with a kind of bracing cold-plunge clarity. Objects of Desire taps into the peculiar, primal struggle of becoming who you are, and all the stories you have to tell yourself to get there. Grade: A -- Leah Greenblatt * Entertainment Weekly * A fun read [that] reminds us that we're all human -- Kaia Gerber, quoted in The Wall Street Journal Objects of Desire reminds me of the soulful stories that emerged in mid-century America, the heyday for the form. Each one is bursting with small, explosive moments, like fireworks illuminating the bareness of the protagonists' lives . . . Sestanovich is a skilled craftswoman, each sentence a carefully positioned tile in a mosaic * Vulture * These stories are wickedly perceptive - Sestanovich precisely measures the distance between how people think of themselves and how the world reads them. A mesmerizing, exquisite debut -- Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others These stories know how we shape ourselves through brief encounters, befuddled recoiling, and endless lonely mulling. Her characters always seem poised at the brink of some great, terrifying, wondrous unraveling * Electric Literature * Sestanovich's intelligent debut collection demonstrates a gift for pithy detail that encapsulates the whole of a character's personality or era of lived experience . . . The collection finds cohesion around the quiet angst of mostly young, female narrators who long for experiences, other people, and states of being just beyond their grasp * Publishers Weekly * With Sestanovich, the everyday is a little shinier. Objects of Desire is filled with [the] kind of details that make up the world . . . both the vivid and the mundane. Her humor is subtle and earnest. The book's tiny moments are what create layers atop the unexceptional -- Clare Marie Schneider * NPR * Exquisitely observed, and sure to stay with you long after you've finished * Bustle * Wry and knowing and deeply funny -- Mira Sethi, author of Are You Enjoying? Sestanovich's writing is clever and rich with layers, just like her characters. And the textures of her sentences are as nuanced as desire itself * Fiction Writers' Review * These stories are restrained, nearly aloof, despite the fact that the characters are constantly and messily butting up against the futility of their desires * Kirkus * These eleven short stories about lust, womanhood and self-identity portray the author's meticulous skill for observation as she draws out the amusing and the melancholic from seemingly everyday interactions. . . Sestanovich expertly places you in the mind of different women, young and old, rich and poor, single and in relationships. The stolen glimpses into the complex minds of her characters will leave you unable to resist writing the rest of their story in your head * Reaction *
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About Clare Sestanovich

Clare Sestanovich is an editor at the New Yorker. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Harper's, and Electric Lit. She lives in Brooklyn.
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Rating details

6 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 33% (2)
4 33% (2)
3 33% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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