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Publisher Description

A Finalist for the Folio Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

One of The New York Times' Top Ten Books of the Year. Named a A New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker, Vogue, NPR, The Guardian, The Independent, Glamour, and The Globe and Mail

A luminous, powerful novel that establishes Rachel Cusk as one of the finest writers in the English language

A man and a woman are seated next to each other on a plane. They get to talking—about their destination, their careers, their families. Grievances are aired, family tragedies discussed, marriages and divorces analyzed. An intimacy is established as two strangers contrast their own fictions about their lives.

Rachel Cusk's Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and stark, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during one oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner and discourse. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. 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 a great loss.

Outline takes a hard look at the things that are hardest to speak about. It brilliantly captures conversations, investigates people's motivations for storytelling, and questions their ability to ever do so honestly or unselfishly. In doing so it bares the deepest impulses behind the craft of fiction writing. This is Rachel Cusk's finest work yet, and one of the most startling, brilliant, original novels of recent years.

Fiction & Literature
January 13
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Customer Reviews

Thatoneguywhosaidthatonething ,

A well written bore

A phrase I often found myself uttering while reading this book was "Cut to the chase." The novel is effectively a series of disjointed and meaningless vignettes viewed through three lenses, those being the characters, the narrators, and finally our own. While that descriptor, a series of disjointed and meaningless vignettes, could very aptly be used to describe life it doesn't make the book any less of a slog. Don't get me wrong: the actual writing is quite good and while I disagreed with the views and opinions of both the narrator and the characters often their distinct voices and way of recounting things did at the very least give their statements some meat. They were defensible and well articulated thoughts. All that said I wouldn't really be able to recommend "Outline", it dawdles about and doesn't start or end anywhere particular.

MMarie P ,

Like catching up with a friend

Cusk’s Outline and the ensuing books in the set, Transit and Kudos, were beautiful books to consume, whether slowly over a series of commutes or all-at-once in an entire afternoon. The prose and winding conversations felt at times revelatory and at others intensely familiar. The protagonist feels like a friend, and I was sad to have finished the series.

CRStyo ,

A Triumph of Dullness

A talented writer has wasted her skills on subjects as dull as writers workshops, banal conversations on airplanes, and the tedious lives of modern Greeks and British.

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