cover image Sisters


Lily Tuck. Atlantic Monthly, $20 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2711-2

With her signature clipped and measured prose, National Book Award winner Tuck’s new novel is elegant, raw, and powerful. As does I Married You for Happiness, this novel also largely takes place inside the mind and memory of a narrator. Fixated on her husband’s first wife, referred to as “she” throughout, the narrator spends most of the book imagining what the first wife was like in her youth or what she’s like now as a refined, middle-aged pianist. Though the two women have rarely met, the narrator focuses on the specific intimacy of their sharing, albeit in succession, the same man. Though at first she benignly estimates the number of times the husband and first wife would have made love, over time, her perseveration becomes more consuming, teetering on the verge of obsession. Both women live in upper Manhattan, and the narrator sometimes goes across town, to the large grocery store she imagines, correctly, to be where the ex-wife does her food shopping, and waits in the aisles. The husband himself is largely out of the picture, traveling for work, yet his absence grows more noticeable as this succinct book builds in emotional intensity to a shocking ending. Though compact enough to be read in one sitting, it’s also magnificent enough to be reread and savored. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Inc. (Sept.)