Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Unnamed

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Unnamed

A Novel

by Joshua Ferris

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris X
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2010, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder
Although Tim Farnsworth's condition never receives an official diagnosis in The Unnamed, his relentless walking might seem to belong to the category of obsessive/compulsive disorders.

Obsessions are defined as recurrent, unavoidable thoughts, and compulsions are categorized as repetitive behaviors. Obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder, since not performing the compulsive behavior can result in increasing anxieties, and often patients perform the compulsive behavior specifically to try - successfully or not - to ward off anxiety.

For many people suffering from compulsive behaviors, the disorder takes the form of one or more "rituals" or routines that must be performed in the exact same way each time. Common examples include repeated hand washing, repeatedly locking doors before going to bed, or returning to the house multiple times to ensure lights or burners have been turned off. These kinds of behaviors can be seen in the healthy population as well, but in people with OCD, the difference is that these rituals begin to interfere with normal enjoyment of life.

In The Unnamed, Tim's doctors also raise the possibility that his walking might have a physical, rather than a mental, explanation. As Jane and Becka discover, this compulsive walking caused by liver or brain malfunction is more commonly witnessed in animals, which may wander aimlessly to the point of causing themselves physical harm or even death. Ferris's novel never gives readers a straight answer about what causes Tim's walking. Readers can consider and debate whether the ailment is physical or mental, or whether Tim's condition is a metaphor rather than a "real" ailment at all.

Article by Norah Piehl

This article was originally published in February 2010, and has been updated for the September 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Calypso
    Calypso
    by David Sedaris
    David Sedaris' Calypso is every bit as hilarious and irreverent, as clever and incisive, as ...
  • Book Jacket: The Word Is Murder
    The Word Is Murder
    by Anthony Horowitz
    A wealthy widow enters a London funeral home to make arrangements for her own funeral. Six hours ...
  • Book Jacket: Call Me American
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel

Patel's stories introduce a bold and timely new literary voice.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A P Saved I A P E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.