igrid Nunez has written a novel that has the qualities of a memoir. Both have in common a narrative voice that is charming, amusing and refreshingly unpretentious. Both have authors who seem – at least in the pages of their writing – to wear their talents and knowledge lightly as a feather. Nunez’s is not a “look at me, am I not clever? Watch while I turn a sentence upside down” novel. But it is very, very clever. Mature. Entertaining. Eminently readable and re-readable.
In short, absolutely delightful.
A meditation on reading and writing, love and loss, The Friend is a work rich in literary allusions and anecdotes, from Rilke through Woolf to JM Coetzee... With The Friend — Nunez’s eighth book...she’s found the perfect pitch... On occasion, the clipped clarity of her storytelling reminded me of Rachel Cusk’s recent auto-fiction, and indeed, Nunez has admitted that there’s an “autobiographical” element to the work... Ultimately, however, Nunez’s prose is illuminated by a wit, warmth and wisdom all of her own. The Friend is a true delight: I genuinely fear I won’t read a better novel this year.
And yet despite her acid critique of writers and their discontents, or perhaps because of her dead-on depiction, Nunez has won over the literary world with “The Friend.” The novel, an acerbic but often poignant exploration of love, friendship, death, grief, art and literature, received this year’s National Book Award for fiction and drew euphoric reviews from critics, who hailed it as a subtle, unassuming masterpiece...