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Second Place (Hardback)

Rachel Cusk

From the author of the Outline trilogy, a fable of human destiny and decline, enacted in a closed system of intimate, fractured relationships.

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Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021

‘A classic, but with contemporary urgency thumping through it.’
Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond

From the acclaimed author of the Outline trilogy, a fable of human destiny and decline, enacted in a closed system of intimate, fractured relationships.

Praise for the Outline trilogy:

‘A landmark in twenty-first-century English literature.’
‘Precise and haunting … Unforgettable.’
Jenny Offill
‘Achieves a kind of formal perfection … masterly.’
Sally Rooney
‘A work of great stunning beauty, deep insight, and great originality.’
Monica Ali

A woman invites a famed artist to visit the remote coastal region where she lives, in the belief that his vision will penetrate the mystery of her life and landscape. Over the course of one hot summer, his provocative presence provides the frame for a study of female fate and male privilege, of the geometries of human relationships, and of the struggle to live morally between our internal and external worlds. With its examination of the possibility that art can both save and destroy us, Second Place is deeply affirming of the human soul, while grappling with its darkest demons.

Critic Reviews

Cusk has glimpsed the central truth of modern life . . . She moves through it as a blasted centre full only of instinct and superhuman hearing and hackles.

Patricia Lockwood
Critic Reviews

Rachel Cusk is always an exciting writer: striking and challenging, with a distinctive cool prose voice, and behind that coolness something untamed and full of raw force . . .

Tessa Hadley
Critic Reviews

Bewildering and bewitching.

Laura Battle, FT, Summer Books
Critic Reviews

A stranger comes to stay in this fascinating, uncomfortable exploration of creativity, the male gaze and the gendered experience of freedom. Cusk’s story of a female writer’s power struggle with a male artist is one of the first novels to take inspiration from lockdown.

Guardian, Summer Reading
Critic Reviews

Ever inventive, Cusk keeps pushing the novel into new terrain.

Miranda France, Prospect
Critic Reviews

Cusk is really interested in ideas — how to live, what freedom means, the ways women subsume themselves into the lives of others … The hybrid form that results — half-novel, half-not — has a timeless, enduring quality.

John Self, The Times

Rachel Cusk is the author of Outline trilogy, the memoirs A Life’s Work and Aftermath, and several other works of fiction and non-fiction. She is a Guggenheim fellow. She lives in Paris.

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