The BookWalker's Top Pick titles includes works of bestselling authors and emerging writers. Titles were selected and voted by our staff. Please note: the selection process is heavily biased but fairly influenced by personal preference and the editor's opinions.
“ A brilliant and complex examination of power dynamics in love and war."
―Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"Lisa Halliday’s debut novel, Asymmetry, begins with a lopsided affair–a perfect vehicle for a story of inexperience and advantage . . . Alice and Amar may be naive, but Halliday is knowing–about isolation, dissatisfaction and the pain of being human.”
The bestselling and critically acclaimed debut novel by Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry, hailed as“extraordinary” by The New York Times, “a brilliant and complex examination of power dynamics in love and war” by The Wall Street Journal, and “a literary phenomenon” by The New Yorker.
This is the story
Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, “Folly,” tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. A tender and exquisite account of an unexpected romance that takes place in New York during the early years of the Iraq War, “Folly” also suggests an aspiring novelist’s coming-of-age. By contrast, “Madness” is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda.
A stunning debut from a rising literary star, Asymmetry is “a transgressive roman a clef, a novel of ideas, and a politically engaged work of metafiction” (The New York Times Book Review), and a “masterpiece” in the original sense of the word” (The Atlantic). Lisa Halliday’s novel will captivate any reader with while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“Asymmetry is extraordinary, and the timing of its publication seems almost like a feat of civics. . . .Halliday’s prose is so strange and startlingly smart that its mere existence seems like commentary on the state of fiction. . . . It’s a first novel that reads like the work of an author who has published many books over many years. . . . Halliday has written, somehow all at once, a transgressive roman a clef, a novel of ideas and a politically engaged work of meta-fiction.”
—Alice Gregory, The New York Times Book Review
" Masterly...As you uncover the points of congruence, so too do you uncover Halliday’s beautiful argument about the pleasure and obligations of fiction...It feels as if the issues she has raised — both explicitly and with the book’s canny structure — have sown seeds that fiction will harvest for years to come."
―"The New Vanguard," The New York Times Book Review
“Asymmetry is a debut burnished to a maximum shine by technical prowess, but it offers readers more than just a clever structure: a familiar world gone familiarly mad."
―The New Republic
“An interesting meditation on creativity, empathy, and the anxiety of influence. . . Asymmetry is a guidebook to being bigger than ourselves."
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Lisa Halliday grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts and currently lives in Milan, Italy. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review and she is the recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award for Fiction. Asymmetry is her first novel.