New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2018 • Amazon Editors' Top 100 of 2018
Rachel Cusk, the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of Outline and Transit, 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 as Kudos reaches 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Rachel Cusk writes with quiet, unassuming genius. The third book in her trilogy—after Outline and Transit—continues to follow Faye, a writer whose name is mentioned only once in the novel. This time, Faye attends a literary festival; like Cusk, she’s observant and witty, and we learn how she sees the world through her interactions with others, including a fellow traveler, her publisher, and another writer. Kudos reads like the brilliant travel tales of a smart friend you wish you saw more often.
Cusk's final book in a trilogy (after Outline and Transit) expertly concludes the story of protagonist Faye, a British author, as she travels Europe to speak at writers' conferences and give interviews. Since the events of the previous book, Faye has remarried and her sons have grown into teenagers, one of whom is preparing to leave for university to study art history. Yet the novel, like its predecessors, eschews chronicling Faye's life via traditional narrative, instead filling each page with conversations with and monologues by the many writers, journalists, and publicists she meets during her travels. Shifting away from the last book's focus on life's journey, Cusk now places Faye in a series of back-and-forths on duality in family, art, and representation. In Germany, Faye talks to an interviewer about jealousy. Later, a young tour guide explains his thoughts on education, gender, and rewarding intelligence (it is here where the novel receives its title); at another stop, Faye is audience to a series of journalists who discuss honesty and workplace inequality. As always, Cusk's ear for dialogue and language is stunning. The author ends Faye's trilogy with yet another gem.