What Are You Going Through
Coming from Riverhead Books / September 8, 2020
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.
Advance praise for What Are You Going Through
“Nunez returns to many of the topics she mined in The Friend, which won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2018: the meaning of life, the nature of death, writing, the purpose of friendship. [S]pare and elegant and immediate … the novel is concerned with the biggest possible questions and confronts them so bluntly it is sometimes jarring: How should we live in the face of so much suffering? Dryly funny and deeply tender; draining and worth it.” (Kirkus, starred review)
“Deceptively casual and ultimately fierce. . . . Much of the novel’s action is internal, as the attention of its . . . narrator flicks from books to movies to sharp-edged thoughts about the people she encounters, offering plenty of surprises. Those willing to jump along with her should be tantalized by the provocative questions she raises.” (Publishers Weekly, review)
Read about Sigrid and her new novel in this profile in Publishers Weekly.
Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and, most recently, The Friend. 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 has also been longlisted 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. 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, McSweeney’s, Tin House, The Believer 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 either has been or is being translated into more than twenty languages.