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Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, an extraordinary tale of love and loss wins National Book Award for Fiction

The Friend is a beautiful yet heartbreaking story about a woman writer who unexpectedly loses a close friend and mentor who commits suicide, leaving behind a dog, a completely unwanted burden for her.

books Updated: Nov 16, 2018 18:17 IST
Srishti Jha
Srishti Jha
Hindustan Times, Delhi
The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez is an extraordinary tale of love that’s won the National Book Award in the Fiction category.
The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez is an extraordinary tale of love that’s won the National Book Award in the Fiction category.(www.sigridnunez.com)
         

The art and heart of loneliness has been touched upon and lived by many writers across centuries. The narratives and characters are certainly different but the remains of the essence of love, loss and memory are mostly the same. Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend that won the National Book Award for Fiction, 2018 is a beautiful yet heartbreaking story about a woman writer who unexpectedly loses a close friend and mentor who commits suicide, leaving behind a dog, a completely unwanted burden for her. The Great Dane who is coping with the sudden demise of its master also fears losing a home and dogs are not allowed in her apartment.

As the story progresses, one discovers a soulful journey of a reinvented friendship, shared loss, missing love and the unpredictable choices that life takes for us. The juxtaposition of being a person who is capable of love and on the other hand, not being able to feel the same way for an unwanted dog is a voyage of internal battles and many sides of love.

On a celebratory Wednesday night this week, the National Book Foundation announced its awards for 2018, acknowledging the best of American literature and the magnanimous power of writing and books. The National Book Award judges called the book, an “exquisitely written and deeply humane exploration of grief, literature and memory.” The book also explores the troubled corners of sexual harassment as the friend who commits suicide was incongruously involved with his younger students, using his fame as a luring element.

Sigrid has written seven novels so far, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and, the most recent, The Friend. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. She has also contributed to the The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Tin House, The Believer, and newyorker.com.

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First Published: Nov 16, 2018 18:17 IST

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