Asymmetry: Book summary and reviews of Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Asymmetry

by Lisa Halliday

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday X
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2018
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A singularly inventive and unforgettable debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art, from 2017 Whiting Award winner Lisa Halliday.

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 an urgent, important, and truly original work that will captivate any reader while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A singularly conceived graft of one narrative upon another; what grows out of these conjoined stories is a beautiful reflection of life and art." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. A beautiful debut novel ... Halliday deftly and subtly intersects the two disparate stories, resulting in a deep rumination on the relation of art to life and death." - Booklist

"Deftly combining two stories that are distinctive in style and content, Whiting Award-winner Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry is a stellar piece of writing and a bold debut." - Shelf Awareness

"Lisa Halliday's debut novel starts like a story you've heard, only to become a book unlike any you've read. The initial mystery is how its pieces fit together; the lasting one is how she pulled the whole thing off. Deft, funny, and humane, Asymmetry is a profoundly necessary political novel about the place for art in an unjust world." - Chad Harbach, author of The Art Of Fielding

"Wow. Asymmetry is a rare book in the sense that it is always shocking to read something this good and polished and fully formed, a novel that impossibly seems to be everything at once: transgressive and intimate and expansive, torn from today's headlines, signifier of the strange moment we now occupy. Somehow this book, this author has all but exploded into the world, fully formed. Lisa Halliday is an amazing writer. Just open this thing, start at the beginning." - Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children and Alice & Oliver

"Amazing. Ms. Halliday has a unique ability to make the familiar strange, and the strange familiar. I'm struggling to think of a novel that has had a similar effect on me. Asymmetry is funny, sad, deeply humane, and clearly the product of bold intelligence at work." - Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds

"Asymmetry is a novel of deceptive lightness and a sort of melancholy joy. Lisa Halliday writes with tender laugh-aloud wit, but under her formidable, reckoning gaze a world of compelling characters emerges.  She steps onto the literary stage with the energy of a debut novelist and the confidence of a mature writer." - Louise Erdrich, author of LaRose and Future Home of the Living God

The information about Asymmetry shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Ruth

Two books, two authors
Reading Asymmetry was like reading two books by two different authors. I love the first part. Ms. Halliday's writing was spare and beautiful. I didn't skip a word. I was enthralled by Alice and Ezra. I appreciated Ezra's dry wit. The relationship between the two was so interesting. You pretty much knew how it would end because of Ezra's age. (I wondered if Alice was the writer he referred to as "a young friend of mine" who went on to write a surprising little novel) while being interviewed on Desert Island Discs. I hope so. I was then taken by surprise when that story ended rather abruptly. I couldn't get interested in the other story, maybe because I have read (and seen movies) about the Mid East too often these days. Perhaps other readers have a different reaction. My overall opinion of the book is positive and I do like Lisa Halliday's writing style and hope to read more of her work in the future.

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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.

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