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
  • 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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hillbilly Elegy
    Hillbilly Elegy
    by J.D. Vance
    In this illuminating memoir, Vance recounts his trajectory from growing up a "hillbilly" in ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dark Flood Rises
    The Dark Flood Rises
    by Margaret Drabble
    Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and ...
  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

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.

 
Modal popup -