Sympathy

Olivia Sudjic. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-544-83659-4
Sudjic’s engrossing debut novel explores how technology dissolves personal boundaries while stripping away true intimacy. Alice travels from London to New York to stay with her sick grandmother during the spring of 2014. Even before she meets Mizuko, a writer who teaches creative writing at Columbia, Alice is obsessed with her. When circumstances align—nudged as far as possible by Alice for the two of them to meet—Alice is desperate for the kind of closeness she’s always imagined could be possible between her and the lauded writer. Physical, emotional, and digital boundaries are tested and broken as Alice struggles to replicate her close connection with Mizuko’s social media persona in her organic relationship with the real Mizuko. Whether that will happen rests on Mizuko’s ever-changing whims, but she simultaneously wields her technological abilities over Mizuko, who is transfixed by social media. Will the flesh-and-blood reality ever fall in line with Alice’s Instagram-addled fantasy? Sudjic’s story is disjointed, alluring, disorienting, and provoking, touching on many contemporary concerns arising from the pervasiveness of social media. At many moments the character of Alice is rather too inscrutable, and Sudjic’s steady, reliable prose is not enough to anchor some of Alice’s more dramatic actions. While some readers will find the ending confusing and unsatisfying, none will be bored by this frenetic, timely story of digital fixation actualized. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2017
Release date: 04/04/2017
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-479-6
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-544-83662-4
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-328-91620-4
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