A New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2020
One of People Magazine’s Top 10 Books of 2020
Named a Best Book of 2020 by O,The Oprah Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, and NPR
What Are You Going Through
Riverhead Books, Hardcover, September 8, 2020 / Paperback, September 7, 2021
A woman describes a series of encounters she has with various people in the ordinary course of her life. Some, like the old friend she goes to visit at a cancer clinic, are people she knows well; others are total strangers. All share a need to talk about themselves. The narrator orchestrates this chorus of voices, sometimes paraphrasing others’ stories, other times allowing them to speak, in extended monologues, for themselves. What emerges is a portrait of the way we live now, in a world endlessly troubled by crises, and the dramatically changing nature of human relationships in our time. For the most part, the narrator assumes the role of a passive listener to her collective storytellers. Then one of them surprises her with an extraordinary request, and she is drawn into what will become an intense and transformative experience of her own.
“Love, death, friendship, compassion and so much wisdom. I just adore Sigrid Nunez.” Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water.
“It takes something more than intelligence to be able to write intelligently. It requires something closer to echolocation, an acute sense, in mid-flight, of where you are . . . . Whatever it is, Sigrid Nunez has it. When I open one of her novels, I almost always know immediately: This is where I want to be. . . . “What Are You Going Through” . . . [is] as good as “The Friend,” if not better.” Dwight Garner, The New York Times.
Sigrid Nunez has published eight novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, The Friend, and, most recently, What Are You Going Through. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. The Friend, a New York Times bestseller, won the 2018 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2019 Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize. In France, it was longlisted for the 2019 Prix Femina and named a finalist for the 2019 Prix du Meilleure Livre. It was also a finalist for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award. Nunez’s other honors and awards include a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. This year she was inducted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among the journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review, The New York Review of Books, Threepenny Review, Harper’s, London Review of Books, and newyorker.com. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including four Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian-American literature. One of her short stories was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2019. Her work has been published in thirty countries.