Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
Coffee House Press
Publish Date
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About the Author

Hilary Leichter is author of the novel Temporary. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the New Yorker, Harper's, n+1, Bookforum, Conjunctions, the Cut, and American Short Fiction. She teaches at Columbia University.


"Leichter's funny, absurdist debut cleverly explores a capitalist society taken to a dreamlike extreme . . . her cutting, hilarious critique of the American dream will appeal to fans of Italo Calvino." --Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"A young temp searches for permanence in Leichter's whimsically surreal fable of late-stage capitalism. . . . clever and strange and, in the end, unexpectedly hopeful, less a biting gig-economy satire than a wistful 21st-century myth. A dreamy meditation on how we construct who we are." --Kirkus

"A brisk, wildly imaginative first novel. . . . Leichter's deeper interest is in mining how transient, insecure work inflects our private life--if it even permits a private life. Can we afford to stop working? Do we remember how?" --New York Times

"Chances are you've never read a workplace novel like Hilary Leichter's. The author takes numbing routines to dreamy (or perhaps nightmarish) extremes, delivering subversive entertainment in the process." --Entertainment Weekly

"A more whimsical Halle Butler novel . . . refreshingly original." --Chicago Tribune

"[A] delirious and deeply humane satire. . . . Temporary has the manic, goofing energy of a lounge act." --Wall Street Journal

"[A] surreal extreme of gig economy slacker fiction. . . . Leichter's novel is emotionally convincing not just because of its narrative, but because of the linguistic dislocation that proves its premise. Language flips like it's about to fall off the edge of the world." --Guernica

"Leichter's narrator, like so many of us, finds herself clinging to the American Dream, despite all modern evidence that we may be out of its reach. Whether it's the immutability of this quest or our enduring national history that makes this story feel timeless, it's Leichter's nimble, singular prose that makes Temporary come alive in our own." --The Believer

"A Calvino-esque critique of the American Dream, in which the main character takes on ever-stranger job placements, from work on a pirate ship to sitting on the board of a corporation to shining an endless closet of shoes. We could honestly use a little absurdist humor in the face of late-capitalism's ubiquitous predations."--Literary Hub

"In this fever dream of a novel, a young woman navigates the impermanence and forced intimacy of life as a professional temp . . . A potent and ethereal look at late capitalism for the young professional. Perfect for fans of Severance by Ling Ma." --Booklist

"The near-farcical chaos of the gig economy is explored in this story of a young woman's journey through a series of increasingly wild job placements, from shining shoes to swabbing the deck of a pirate ship. (Not to judge a book by its cover, but this one gets extra points for the coolest jacket we've seen in a while.)"--Vogue

"Temporary has garnered critical acclaim in all the right places--and it's well-deserved. . . . Leichter succeeds in creating a space for wonder and tenderness in an anxiety-inducing job market. Her unorthodox narrative and whimsical writing push you across the page. Reading Temporary is like discovering the origin myth of the gig economy."--Interview

"Temporary sits in a constellation of works by writers like Jen George, Eugene Lim, and even Kurt Vonnegut, who play with puns and archetypes in order to parse capitalism's marriage with identity. Quippy prose and surreal narratives shift the focus away from individual actors, distancing these works from the traditional requirements of character and plot development. These fictions portray the exploitation, manipulation, and outright abuse of late capitalism in ways that a memoir--or even a 'realistic' novel--could not." --Bookforum

"A comic workplace novel about struggle under late capitalism, complete with a ghost who gives advice." --Book Riot

"Perfectly captures our unhinged current times." --GARAGE

"An experimental novel which features a heroine who is basically a shape-shifter. She's a temp, but it's a gig economy like we've never seen before . . . A 'wow, ' great metaphor for freelancing." --WNYC, All of It

"As if Alice in Wonderland and The Odyssey hooked up at a party and conceived a child who, out of shame, tried their hardest to become a functioning member of society. . . . I loved this book that manages to create fantastical lore out of the banality of office work, that idealizes the working class experience without being condescending, that offers whimsy to failure." --Entropy

"Temporary is a demented, de-tuned love song for the working life. Hilary Leichter possesses the brute force of language and imagination to create ultra-vivid worlds, suffused with an eerie weirdo beauty. It is Leichter's brilliance that these invented worlds reflect so directly, blindingly, on the secret, mythical workings of our own." --Ben Marcus

"Temporary took me by storm. Each short chapter is a wallop of topsy-turvy wisdom and humor, and together they build a strange and sparkling universe. The novel is about work and identity and the masks we wear, but it's also about our weird little human hearts and what they can bear. I am a Hilary Leichter superfan." --Ramona Ausubel

"In Temporary, the quest for gainful employment is epic; operatic; deliciously, sunnily, terrifyingly entertaining. Hilary Leichter is a conjurer of rare talent." --Kelly Link

"This clever book! I don't know how Hilary Leichter worked this bit of sly magic, but she waved a wand and created the perfect parable for our perilous gig economy. This hilarious, sad book about work and worth is what everyone needs to read right now." --Amber Sparks

"A profound, devastating, and unforgettable book of wonders. Devour Temporary in one sitting so you can join the feverish club of people who love this book!" --Xuan Juliana Wang

"A narrative so deliciously allusive and disarmingly literal that this reader kept thinking maximum glee had been attained, only for the glee to somehow grow even more maximal just a few sentences later." --Helen Oyeyemi

"A weird, punny, hysterical, hard and soft-hitting collection of laughs, tears, and thought-provoking entertainment. Temporary will be one of the best books you read next year." --Paperback Paris