The Vulnerables

Coming from Riverhead Books on November 7, 2023

A Most Anticipated or Best Book of Fall: The New York Times, TIME Magazine, Elle, Washington Post, LitHub, The Millions, Good Housekeeping, The Week, Southern Living, Town and Country, W Magazine

Elegy plus comedy is the only way to express how we live in the world today, says a character in Sigrid Nunez’s ninth novel. The Vulnerables completes a meditation on our contemporary era that Nunez began with The Friend and continued with What Are You Going Through. A solitary female narrator asks what it means to be alive at this complex moment in history and considers how our present reality affects the way a person looks back on her past.

Humor, to be sure, is a priceless refuge. Equally vital is connection with others, who here include an adrift member of Gen Z and a spirited parrot named Eureka. The Vulnerables reveals what happens when strangers are willing to open their hearts to each other and how far even small acts of caring can go to ease another’s distress. A search for understanding about some of the most critical matters of our time, Nunez’s new novel is also an inquiry into the nature and purpose of writing itself.


“A sharp-eyed and tender novel about human connection in a time of crisis. As compassionate as it is disquieting, and as funny as it is painfully honest.” Paula Hawkins
“Smart and sad and funny.” Sarah Moss
“It is exciting to read a book that manages to be so honest and serious, and at the same time so playful and witty.” Natasha Walter

“Hilarious and deeply reflective.”–TIME

“Nunez’s subject is the core business of being alive: the tenuous beauty of human connection, the nature of memory, the purpose of writing, the passage of time…. [T]he result is almost arrestingly straightforward. Spare and understated and often quite funny … strangely, sweetly hopeful; there is, it seems, a reason to go on. Sharp—and surprisingly tender.” Kirkus, starred review

“[A] funny and thoughtful story…. [Nunez’s] pacing is as swift as her wit. Once again, Nunez manages to make a story of mortality go down easy.” Publishers Weekly

“[A] penetrating interrogation of the nature of reading, writing, creating fiction–especially in a time of widespread peril.”  Shelf Awareness

“Nunez’s ninth novel is a reading experience—existential, beautifully written, funny, and even hopeful.” Literary Hub Fall Preview