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How to Be Somebody Else

"Charged with emotional tension and eroticism, this enthralling boundary-breaking novel sees a 30-something Briton in New York break her own boundaries and unravel her life."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Set in NYC in 2015, Miranda Pountney’s How to Be Somebody Else debut is a spellbinding un-coming-of-age story that sees a 30-something Briton walk out on her career to housesit, rent-free, for an artist, with a vague intention to finally get around to writing. 

Pountney’s own writing is incisively sparse, and laced with existential tension as Dylan, feeling that her life is “like a string of accidents”, embarks on an un-doing of her life, driven by a vague need to find the space “to let herself happen.” 

With her boyfriend living on the West Coast, in the dark about her resignation and move, Dylan embarks on an affair with a married neighbour, Gabe. Their connection is visceral, they don’t discuss their respective long-term relationships, or their futures.

Then there’s an impending hurricane, both real and symbolic, made all the more symbolic when it’s downgraded to a super storm. Tellingly, this downgrade is disappointing to Dylan, with its “devastation withheld”.

Wily and sometimes shocking, courtesy of Dylan’s recklessness and Gabe’s laissez-faire nonchalance, I loved the observational detail and intimate character portraits, with the author’s sharp eye shining through Dylan. For example: “From the outside, the bar looks like a whore house might in Disneyland.”

In How to Be Somebody Else Miranda Pountney has delivered a showstopping debut performance on the literary stage — I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

Joanne Owen

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