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Rachel Cusk was born to English parents in Canada in 1967, and spent most of her early childhood in Los Angeles. On coming to England in 1975, she was sent to a Catholic convent school in Cambridge before reading English at New College, Oxford. After graduation, she lived and worked in Madrid for a year before travelling in Central America. Her first novel Saving Agnes won the Whitbread First Novel Award in 1993. She is also the author of The Temporary and Country Life. Rachel now lives permanently in North London, concentrating on her writing, as well reviewing regularly for The Times and TLS.
Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015. Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2014. A woman writer goes to Athens in the height of summer to teach a writing course. Though her own circumstances remain indistinct, she becomes the audience to a chain of narratives, as the people she meets tell her one after another the stories of their lives. Beginning with the neighbouring passenger on the flight out and his tales of fast boats and failed marriages, the storytellers talk of their loves and ambitions and pains, their anxieties, their perceptions and daily lives. In the stifling heat and noise of the city the sequence of voice begins to weave a complex human tapestry. The more they talk the more elliptical their listener becomes, as she shapes and directs their accounts until certain themes begin to emerge: the experience of loss, the nature of family life, the difficulty of intimacy and the mystery of creativity itself.
September 2009 Book of the Month. A family drama where the characters spend their time analysing themselves and their roles in the family. Funny and sad this novel will have you analysing your own place in life and looking at what influences and creates who you are. A thoughtful and thought provoking book.
Set over the course of one day this is a snapshot of suburban life seen through the eyes of five women, all married, financially secure and mothers. Their lives should be perfect but none of them are particularly happy. The women muse over their lives while carrying out the mundane duties of day to day living. Cusk’s ability to focus on the dullest of actions, such as filling the fridge or parking the car, draws out the frustration these women feel at how humdrum their lives have become. Although there is a lot of resentment and dissatisfaction among these women Cusk still manages to fill the book with humour, albeit quite dark humour.
Thomas Bradshaw and Tonie Swann are experiencing the classic symptoms of marriage in its middle years: comfortable house, happy-enough daughter and an eerie sense that life might be happening elsewhere. Then Tonie accepts a big promotion at work and Thomas agrees to become a stay-at-home dad. While Thomas is suddenly faced with the daily silence of an empty house, Tonie finds herself alive to previously unimagined possibilities. And at the head of the family, the ageing Bradshaw parents continue their marital dynamic of bickering and petty undermining.
When eighteen-year-old Michael visits the Hanbury's remote family home he is captivated by their bohemian lifestyle. Years later, when he marries the strong-willed, beautiful Rebecca, he is secretly hoping to create his own version of that free-thinking family, but after the birth of their first child, their marriage begins to flounder. The chance to escape once more to his friend's country house comes as a welcome relief, until he discovers a family changed, and his own romantic notions of country life begin to disintegrate . . .
Ralph Loman works in an unsatisfying job, for a free London newspaper, when Francine Snaith, a temporary secretary for a corporate finance firm, unexpectedly crosses his path at a party. Her beauty ignites a blaze of excitement in his troubled heart. But Francine is ravenous for attention, driven by a thirst for conquest, and when Ralph tries politely to extricate himself, he finds he is bound by chains of consequence from which it seems there is no escape. The Temporary paints a merciless portrait of the cut and thrust of modern romance, work and life.
Winner of the Whitbread First Novel Award Agnes Day - sub-editor, suburbanite, failure extraordinaire - has discovered disconcerting gaps in her general understanding of the world. Terminally middle-class and incurably romantic, Agnes finds herself chronically confused by the most basic interactions. Life and love go on without her, but with a little facade she can pass herself off as a success. Beneath the fiction, however, the burden of truth becomes harder to bear.
When Rachel Cusk decides to travel to Italy for a summer with her husband and two young children, she has no idea of the trials and wonders that lie in store. Their journey leads them to both the expected and the surprising, all seen through Cusk's sharp and humane perspective.
After the publication of Outline, Transit and Kudos - in which Rachel Cusk redrew the boundaries of fiction - this writer of uncommon brilliance returns with a series of essays that offers new insights on the themes at the heart of her life's work. Encompassing memoir and cultural and literary criticism, with pieces on gender, politics and writers such as D. H. Lawrence, Olivia Manning and Natalia Ginzburg, this collection is essential reading for our age: fearless, unrepentantly erudite, both startling and rewarding to behold. The result is a cumulative sense of how the frank, deeply intelligent sensibility - so evident in her stories and novels - reverberates in the wider context of Cusk's literary process. Coventry grants its readers a rare opportunity to see a mind at work that will influence literature for time to come.
A SUNDAY TIMES TOP 100 NOVEL OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY Arlington Park is an ordinary English suburb. Over the course of a single day, the novel moves from one household to another, revealing its characters: Juliet, enraged at the victory of men over women in family life; Amanda, warding off thoughts of death with obsessive housework; Solly, about to give birth to her fourth child; Maisie, struggling to accept provincial life; and Christine, the optimist and host of a dinner part where the neighbours come together.
In the winter of 2009, Rachel Cusk's marriage of ten years came to an end. Candid and revelatory, Aftermath chronicles the perilous journey as the author redefines herself and creates a new version of family life for her daughters.
A Life's Work is Rachel Cusk's funny, moving, brutally honest account of her early experiences of motherhood. An education in babies, books, breast-feeding, toddler groups, broken nights, bad advice and never being alone, it is a landmark work, which has provoked acclaim and outrage in equal measure.
Stella Benson sets off for Hilltop, a tiny Sussex village housing a family that is somewhat larger than life. Her hopes for the Maddens may be high, but her station among them, as au pair to their irascible son Martin - is undeniably low. What could possibly have driven her to leave her home, job and life in London for such rural ignominy? Why has she severed all contact with her parents? Why is she so reluctant to talk about her past? The Country Life, Rachel Cusk's third novel, is a rich and subtle story about embarrassment, awkwardness and being alone; about families, or the lack of them; and about love in some peculiar guises.
'A landmark in twenty-first-century English literature.' Andrew Anthony, Observer 'Kudos is one of the most astoundingly original and necessary books I've ever read. It made me laugh, think and cry . . . I envy anyone who hasn't read it yet.' Julie Myerson, Guardian A woman on a plane listens to the stranger in the seat next to hers telling her the story of his life: his work, his marriage, and the harrowing night he has just spent burying the family dog. That woman is Faye, who is on her way to Europe to promote the book she has just published. Once she reaches her destination, the conversations she has with the people she meets - about art, about family, about politics, about love, about sorrow and joy, about justice and injustice - include the most far-reaching questions human beings ask. These conversations, the last of them on the phone with her son, rise dramatically and majestically to a beautiful conclusion. Following the novels Outline and Transit, Kudos completes Rachel Cusk's trilogy with overwhelming power.
Rachel Cusk, the award-winning and critically acclaimed author ofOutlineandTransit, completes the transcendent literary trilogy with Kudos, a novel of unsettling power.A woman writer visits a Europe in flux, where questions of personal and political identity are rising to the surface and the trauma of change is opening up new possibilities of loss and renewal. Within the rituals of literary culture, Faye finds the human story in disarray amid differing attitudes toward the public performance of the creative persona. She begins to identify among the people she meets a tension between truth and representation, a fissure that accrues great dramatic force asKudosreaches a profound and beautiful climax.In this conclusion to her groundbreaking trilogy, Cusk unflinchingly explores the nature of family and art, justice and love, and the ultimate value of suffering. She is without question one of our most important living writers.
In the wake of her family's collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions- - personal, moral, artistic, and practical - as she endeavours to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city, she is made to confront aspects of living that she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life. Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed novel Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility and the mystery of change. '[Transit] confirms that one of the most fascinating projects in contemporary fiction is unfolding in Rachel Cusk's trilogy.' Adam Foulds
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE A woman on a plane listens to the stranger in the seat next to hers telling her the story of his life: his work, his marriage, and the harrowing night he has just spent burying the family dog. That woman is Faye, who is now on her way to Europe to promote the book she has just published. Once she reaches her destination, the conversations she has with the people she meets - about art, about family, about politics, about love, about sorrow and joy, about justice and injustice - are the most far-reaching questions human beings ask. These conversations, the last of them with her son, rise dramatically and majestically to a beautiful conclusion. Kudos completes Rachel Cusk's trilogy with overwhelming power. The trilogy is one of the great achievements in fiction.
Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing over an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her student in storytelling exercises. She meets other writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her seatmate from the place. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves, their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face great a great loss. Outline is the first book in a short and yet epic cycle - a masterful trilogy which will be remembered as one of the most significant achievements of our times. 'Outline succeeds powerfully. Among other things, it gets a great variety of human beings down on the page with both immediacy and depth; an elemental pleasure that makes the book as gripping to read as a thriller... A stellar accomplishment.' James Lasdun, Guardian
The stunning new novel from the author of Outline, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and one of The New York Times Book Reviews Ten Best Books of the YearIn the wake of family collapse, a writer moves to London with her two young sons. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitionspersonal, moral, artistic, practicalas she endeavors to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city she is made to confront aspects of living she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life.Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed novel Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility, and the mystery of change. In this precise, short, and yet epic novel, Cusk manages to describe the most elemental experiences, the liminal qualities of life, through a narrative near-silence that draws language toward it. She captures with unsettling restraint and honesty the longing to both inhabit and flee ones life and the wrenching ambivalence animating our desire to feel real.