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The Shapeless Unease: Book summary and reviews of The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey

The Shapeless Unease

A Year of Not Sleeping

by Samantha Harvey

The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey X
The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey
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  • Published in USA  May 2020
    192 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

This genre-defying debut memoir by Betty Trask Prize winner, Samantha Harvey, weaves a tapestry of confessional anguish, flash fiction, cathartic poetry, and feverish observations on politics and psychology in a transcendent search for reality and truth.

In 2016, Samantha Harvey began to lose sleep. She tried everything to appease her wakefulness: from medication to therapy, changes in her diet to changes in her living arrangements. Nothing seemed to help.

The Shapeless Unease is Harvey's darkly funny and deeply intelligent anatomy of her insomnia, an immersive interior monologue of a year without one of the most basic human needs. Original and profound, and narrated with a lucid breathlessness, this is a startlingly insightful exploration of memory, writing and influence, death and the will to survive, from "this generation's Virginia Woolf" (Telegraph).

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Sleeplessness gets the Susan Sontag illness-as-metaphor treatment in this pensive, compact, lyrical inquiry into the author's nighttime demons. An exquisitely rendered voyage into the 'shapelessness of a life without sleep, where days merge unbounded.'" - Kirkus Reviews

"[M]asterful and captivating...At once intensely personal and universal." - Booklist

"Recommended for those curious about the creative process and the devastating effects of sleep deprivation." - Library Journal

"[B]eautifully, if unsettlingly, Harvey captures the roiling exhaustion, the fuggy disbelief and irrational anger of this newly uncertain state when 'the world becomes profoundly unsafe' and the boundaries between the inner and outer self start to blur…Readers looking for their own cure will instead find an erudite companion to help them through the dark times." - Sunday Times (UK)

"Poetic, visceral…The Shapeless Unease contains many beautiful and poignant passages about the human will to keep on living...Harvey's imagery casts a spell." - The Times (UK)

"It's funny, sad, wry, always worrying away at the mystery of sleep and its absence and finding endless new angles so that the whole has something of the quality of those waking dreams that haunt the insomniac and are her private country. There's also something unrefined, raw and spontaneous about the writing that I found hugely appealing." - Andrew Miller

"The Shapeless Unease captures the essence of fractious emotions – anxiety, fear, grief, rage – in prose so elegant, so luminous, it practically shines from the page. Harvey is a hugely talented writer, and this is a book to relish." - Sarah Waters

"How can a book about a sensual deprivation be so sensuous and so full? Gritty with particulars, concrete and substantial even when it is most philosophical and far-reaching. I loved reading it before I fell asleep every night – it seemed to give my sleep resonance and poetry. What a beautiful book." - Tessa Hadley

The information about The Shapeless Unease 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.

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Author Information

Samantha Harvey

Samantha Harvey is the author of The Wilderness, All Is Song, Dear Thief, and The Western Wind. Her work has been longlisted for the Bailey's Prize and the Man Booker, and finalist for the James Tait Black Award, the Orange Prize, the Guardian First Book Award and the Walter Scott Prize. The Wilderness won the Betty Trask Award in 2009. She teaches Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

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