WINNER OF THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A beautiful book … a world of insight into death, grief, art, and love." —Wall Street Journal
"A penetrating, moving meditation on loss, comfort, memory...Nunez has a wry, withering wit." —NPR
"Dry, allusive and charming…the comedy here writes itself.” The New York Times
A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.
When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.
While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.
Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
After her close friend and former lover commits suicide, an unnamed writer reluctantly takes possession of his aging Great Dane. It sounds like the beginning of a teary “this dog rescued me” story, but Sigrid Nunez’s novel evades any shred of Marley & Me–style sentimentality. Written as a letter to the protagonist’s late friend, The Friend is a meditation on writing as an act of mourning. Peppered with literary references and reflections on grief, it’s equal parts heart-wrenching and heartwarming. If you weren’t a dog person before reading this book, trust us, you will be after.
In the riveting new novel from Nunez (Salvation City), the unnamed narrator thinks in the second person, addressing an unnamed old friend, a man, who has recently and unexpectedly committed suicide. The two first met decades earlier, while she was his student, the same semester in fact, when a fellow student became "Wife One" of three. While wives and lovers have come and gone, the narrator has remained a constant, friendly intimate of the deceased, a platonic yet intense and complex relationship. Mourning, she begins writing a cathartic elegy that becomes a larger meditation on writing, loss, and various forms of love. Early in the book, Wife Three calls to ask if the narrator will take responsibility for a large Great Dane named Apollo, whom the man had found abandoned in Central Park. Despite the unexpectedness of the request, the narrator takes the dog home, and over the course of the rest of the novel, her love for Apollo both consumes and heals her. This elegant novel explores both rich memories and day-to-day mundanity, reflecting the way that, especially in grief, the past is often more vibrant than the present.
A wondrous tribute to friendship, how it nourishes us, and how
nothing can fill the void when a much cherished friend departs
And then you’ll know why writing an online review while giving it stars is a melancholy act.
I read this less than two weeks ago and can’t remember a single thing about it besides some vague meta-twist, the kind that seem to be all the rage these days. It’s disguise as a series of letters to a friend feels hollow with the way it is written, as if the writer was self-conscious and actually expected someone else to read these letters, writing to and for an audience instead of to a lost friend in a non-superficial, sincere manner. I guess she was though, joke’s on us.