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Asymmetry
Cover of Asymmetry
Asymmetry
A Novel
A TIME and NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK of the YEAR * New York Times Notable Book and Times Critic's Top Book of 2018

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2018 BY * Elle * Bustle * Kirkus Reviews * Lit Hub* NPR * O, The Oprah Magazine * Shelf Awareness

The bestselling and critically acclaimed debut novel by Lisa Halliday, hailed as "extraordinary" by The New York Times, "a brilliant and complex examination of power dynamics in love and war" by The Wall Street Journal, and "a literary phenomenon" by The New Yorker.
Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, "Folly," tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. A tender and exquisite account of an unexpected romance that takes place in New York during the early years of the Iraq War, "Folly" also suggests an aspiring novelist's coming-of-age. By contrast, "Madness" is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda.

A stunning debut from a rising literary star, Asymmetry is "a transgressive roman a clef, a novel of ideas, and a politically engaged work of metafiction" (The New York Times Book Review), and a "masterpiece" in the original sense of the word" (The Atlantic). Lisa Halliday's novel will captivate any reader with while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself.
A TIME and NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK of the YEAR * New York Times Notable Book and Times Critic's Top Book of 2018

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2018 BY * Elle * Bustle * Kirkus Reviews * Lit Hub* NPR * O, The Oprah Magazine * Shelf Awareness

The bestselling and critically acclaimed debut novel by Lisa Halliday, hailed as "extraordinary" by The New York Times, "a brilliant and complex examination of power dynamics in love and war" by The Wall Street Journal, and "a literary phenomenon" by The New Yorker.
Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, "Folly," tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. A tender and exquisite account of an unexpected romance that takes place in New York during the early years of the Iraq War, "Folly" also suggests an aspiring novelist's coming-of-age. By contrast, "Madness" is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda.

A stunning debut from a rising literary star, Asymmetry is "a transgressive roman a clef, a novel of ideas, and a politically engaged work of metafiction" (The New York Times Book Review), and a "masterpiece" in the original sense of the word" (The Atlantic). Lisa Halliday's novel will captivate any reader with while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself.
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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Lisa Halliday grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts and currently lives in Milan, Italy. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review and she is the recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award for Fiction. Asymmetry is her first novel.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 29, 2018
    Halliday, recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award, crafts a stellar and inventive debut, a puzzle of seemingly incongruous pieces that, in the end, fit together perfectly. In the early aughts, young NYC book editor Alice embarks on an affair with Ezra, a surprisingly kind older novelist. As the American military conflict in Iraq escalates, Alice and Ezra flit into and out of each other lives, bonding over the Red Sox, Scrabble, and Ezra’s failure to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. After a health scare lands Ezra in the hospital, Alice must decide the future of their relationship. The second, decidedly different section follows Amar, an Iraqi-American of complicated provenance who has been detained at Heathrow Airport on his way to Iraq. Alternating between the customs official’s curt interrogation of Amar and flashbacks to his life in America, the sequence draws the background violence of the earlier section violently into the foreground without sacrificing any of the former’s momentum or humor. A singular collision of forms, tones, and arguments, the novel provides frequent delights and never explains too much. Any reader who values innovative fiction should treasure this. Agent: Chris Parris-Lamb, Gernert Company.

  • AudioFile Magazine Four narrators breathe life into Lisa Halliday's thought-provoking and elegant novel. Of the four, Candace Thaxton is the most effective; her youthful voice brings warmth and wry humor to the story of an editorial assistant's relationship with an award-winning writer several decades her senior. Aden Hakimi, recounting the harrowing subplot of an Iraqi-American man who is detained on a trip to see his brother, also gives a engaging performance, adroitly capturing the character's seemingly calm demeanor while hinting at the turmoil beneath. Unfortunately, the final and shortest section, written as an interview between the award-winning writer (Arthur Morey) and a radio host (Fiona Hardingham), feels staged and unnatural. This small misstep aside, the audiobook is an appealing listen. E.C. � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2018

    Be warned: this three-parter, four-narrator delight requires utmost attention. But be assured: rewards aplenty await. With crisp, almost staccato delivery, Candace Thaxton affectingly presents Part 1, "Folly," in which editor Alice and author Ezra share 97 years between them. Hint: Alice is 27, but the age difference doesn't prevent falling in love. Part 1 abruptly gives way to Part 2, "Madness," in which an Iraqi American economist is detained in London's Heathrow Airport en route to visiting his brother in Kurdistan. Narrator Aden Hakimi modulates effortlessly between explication and emotion; however, production quality proves uneven as numerous phrases sound as if they were rerecorded in a tunnel, then clumsily reinserted. The final, shortest section mimics a real-life BBC radio show, "Desert Island Discs," in which Fiona Hardingham adeptly interviews Arthur Morey as Ezra some years after "Folly." Part 3 is of utmost narrative importance as the illuminating connections are revealed; alas, it's aurally the most disappointing, with a haltingly spliced question-and-answer format as well as the dissonance between indulgent, almost grandfatherly Ezra in Part 1 and newly robust, self-satisfied Ezra in Part 3. VERDICT Despite directorial miscues, Halliday's debut is so strong as to outshine any production stumbles. Libraries should prepare for substantial demand. ["Full of choices and of opposites--young/old, seasoned/novice, American/Iraqi--this thought-provoking book is evocative of the world we live in today. Highly recommended for readers of literary fiction": LJ 2/1/8 starred review of the S. & S. hc.]--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Asymmetry
A Novel
Lisa Halliday
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