My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Ottessa Moshfegh’s second novel, set in New York in the run-up to 9/11, is a “bleakly comic tale of a disenchanted 24-year-old who spends a year hibernating in a narcotic haze”, said Johanna Thomas-Corr in the London Evening Standard. Its unnamed narrator works in a gallery and has a “comfy inheritance”, but “longs to drop out of society and live like a bum”. With the help of her “terrible” psychiatrist, she enters drug-induced sleep in the hope of becoming a “better person”. Moshfegh’s “wickedly funny” novel “takes on alienation, big pharma and the emptiness of consumption”.
“As a recipe for drama, it’s far from obvious,” said Anthony Cummins in The Observer. And yet this “comically adversarial narrative” hits multiple targets: as a “tale of displaced grief”; as a “pitiless anatomy of gender injustice”; and as a “dark state-of-America fable”. I disagree, said Robert Douglas-Fairhurst in The Times. Although “Moshfegh’s writing is as lethally efficient as a flick knife”, the novel as a whole feels “like a work in progress – and not one that’s going anywhere in particular”.