Coventry: Essays

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Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
5.6 X 1.0 X 8.3 inches | 0.82 pounds
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About the Author

Rachel Cusk is the author of Outline, Transit, Kudos; the memoirs A Life's Work, The Last Supper, and Aftermath; and several other novels: Saving Agnes, winner of the Whitbread Award; The Temporary; The Country Life, which won the Somerset Maugham Award; The Lucky Ones; In the Fold; Arlington Park; and The Bradshaw Variations. She was chosen as one of Granta's 2003 Best of Young British Novelists. She lives in London.


"First-rate, marked by candor and seriousness . . . [Cusk] is a poet of split feelings. Her inquisitive intelligence is the rebar that, inside the concrete, holds the edifice upright . . . I have quoted Cusk a great deal in this review. There are more of her words here than mine . . . But sometimes you just need to get out of the way." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"[Cusk's voice is] imbued with an authority that is all the more powerful because it is diffuse and flexible, aware of its limited perspective and willing to be measured against those of others . . . Cusk, like the best artists, has renovated her work from its deepest interior--the self--transforming her private crises into an expansive aesthetic vision." --Meaghan O'Gieblyn, The New York Times Book Review

"Cusk is a brilliant, perspicacious social critic whose crisp prose is only matched by the elegance of her insights . . . [Coventry] is a daring return to her own voice . . . Luminous." --Cat Zhang, Slate

"[Cusk] writes like someone who has been burned and has reacted not with self-censorship but with a doubling-down on clarity. She is blazingly intelligent, a deep, tough-minded thinker . . . [whose essays] are at once freewheeling and exquisitely precise." --Heller McAlpin, NPR

"Fans of Cusk's prose and authorial perspective, her cutting wit and inimitable turns of phrase, will enjoy these essays . . . Bringing these writings together under one roof, so to speak, showcases Cusk as one of the 21st century's great novelist-essayists." --Donal Harris, Los Angeles Review of Books

"As in her novels, Cusk's prose in these essays is a tight guitar string or a wire from an espalier. Her descriptions . . . have a bewildering precision, a feeling of painful truthfulness." --Claire Jarvis, Bookforum

"Cusk's unsparing ability to see links between her own experience and broader literary and historical perspectives has always elevated her personal writing above mere memoir, and this collection cements her reputation as one of the most fierce and elegant chroniclers of how we live now." --Stephanie Merritt, The Guardian

"The essays [in Coventry] chip away at Cusk's preoccupations--the tenuous agreements of civility, the tension between family life and the creative process, the making of a home--from multiple angles in order to chisel towards some sort of truth . . . As the language in her work becomes more streamlined, Cusk's voice in Coventry resonates loud and clear." --Mia Levitin, Financial Times

"Fiercely intelligent, with enviable prose that is at once luminous and precise . . . If residing in 'Coventry' has allowed [Cusk] to write with such devastating complexity, I hope she stays there." --Kathryn Maris, New Statesman

"[Cusk's] fiction and non-fiction alike is relentless in its commitment to exploring the painful struggle for personal truth, whatever the cost . . . Undeniably smart." --Nathan Whitlock, The Star (Toronto)

"The word that keeps coming to mind when reading this collection of Rachel Cusk's essays is 'formidable.' It describes her intelligence in writing about everything from literature to parenthood." --John Self, The Irish Times

"Opening up the deep crevices of everyday life's paradoxes, myths, and more, Cusk pulls apart the stories we tell to reflect on the mess underneath." --Maggie Taft, Booklist (starred review)

"Readers of the author's first-person fiction will be pleased with the acutely observant narrative voice that characterizes these introspective meditations on family, motherhood, marriage, and community . . . An eloquent and engrossing selection of nonfiction writing that will enhance Cusk's stature in contemporary literature." --Kirkus (starred review)

"Cusk turns her perceptive gaze and distinctive voice to a variety of topics in her arresting first essay collection." --Publishers Weekly

"Impressive and wonderful. Rachel Cusk sees the truth where the rest of us can only make out shadows. Coventry is Cusk's theory of forms." --Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse