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Second Place

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

A woman invites a famed artist to the remote coastal landscape where she lives. Drawn to his paintings, she believes his vision may penetrate the mystery at the centre of her life. But as a long, dry summer sets in, his provocative presence soon twists the patterns of her secluded household.

‘The most singular book . . . A psychodrama that is both timeless and up-to-the minute . . . Truly one of a kind.’ Justine Jordan, Guardian

‘A novel of deep insight and scarring honesty.’ Martin Chilton, Independent

‘Re-sets the dial yet again.’ Claire Harman, Evening Standard

‘Extraordinary . . . fearless.’ Alex Clark, The Spectator

‘Glittering brilliance.’ Jon Day, Financial Times

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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