My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

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“My Year of Rest and Relaxation” is something special. This story of self-inflicted loneliness is bleak and funny, marked throughout with memorable moments and turns of phrase. It’s a fascinating story of how perceived alienation can evolve into actual alienation through little more than one’s selective dismissal of self-awareness.
-The Maine Edge

Synopsis

From one of our boldest, most celebrated new literary voices, a novel about a young woman's efforts to duck the ills of the world by embarking on an extended hibernation with the help of one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature and the battery of medicines she prescribes

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn't she? She's young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn't just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It's the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers.
 

About Ottessa Moshfegh

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Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from Boston. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize for her stories in The Paris Review and granted a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford.
 
Published July 10, 2018 by Penguin Press. 304 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for My Year of Rest and Relaxation
All: 7 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 4

Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Mark Athitakis on Jul 06 2018

Moshfegh’s strategy is similar here — the narrator quits her job at a tony art gallery in gross-out fashion. But under the novel’s veneer of absurdity and provocation is a nuanced study of emotional helplessness.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Walton Muyumba on Jul 12 2018

Moshfegh’s strange and captivating novel suggests that sleep may be the only thing we humans have for recharging our souls and reawakening our sensibilities in the discovery and creation of beauty.

Read Full Review of My Year of Rest and Relaxation | See more reviews from LA Times

The Maine Edge

Excellent
Reviewed by Allen Adams on Jul 25 2018

“My Year of Rest and Relaxation” is something special. This story of self-inflicted loneliness is bleak and funny, marked throughout with memorable moments and turns of phrase. It’s a fascinating story of how perceived alienation can evolve into actual alienation through little more than one’s selective dismissal of self-awareness.

Read Full Review of My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Anthony Cummins on Jul 22 2018

How far you take to My Year of Rest and Relaxation may depend on how entertaining you find this kind of caustic sociological taxonomy.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by M John Harrison on Jul 11 2018

...halfway through, though, the reader begins to hope that My Year of Rest and Relaxation will wake up, collect itself and begin to move in some new direction.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Jul 10 2018

...so heavy-handedly foreshadows her denouement that it should come as no surprise to anyone who's half-awake. It certainly puts her character's suffering in perspective. More importantly, it marks a bold — if not entirely earned — leap to a less solipsistic worldview and a broader relevance for this provocative writer.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Jul 10 2018

As engrossing as it is, there's also something undeniably airless and off-putting about this novel. Reading it is like having one of those weird vivid dreams; a dream that's so self-contained, once you shake off its drowsy spell, you may find it hard to remember what it was all about.

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