Saturday, March 10, 2018


Asymmetry: a Novel / Lisa Halliday, 275 p.

If you're reading this blog, you read a lot of books.  So do I.  And these days I find the single most important feature of a book  isn't beautiful writing, or great characters, or cultural resonance, or plot twists, or any other identifiable feature.  It's this: when I'm reading, is the outside world blocked out temporarily?  Do I keep reading long past bedtime? Do I turn pages without noticing?

The books that fill that particular bill are, these days, rare, but Asymmetry is one.  I can't tell you why.  We have two seemingly unrelated stories.  The first is the story of Alice, a young editor who has a long, sweet and complicated affair with a much older writer of the Updike-ish variety, set in approximately 2002.  The second story belongs to Amar, an academic Iraqi-American who spins out the narrative of his family while waiting in a Heathrow holding room while his passport is scrutinized, this in late 2008. 

The key that links these two unrelated people is certainly the title word, although that's an oversimplification.  The narratives are riddled with lopsided power relationships, but there's more at work here that I can't put my finger on.  Now that I've written my own review, I'm looking forward to reading what other readers think.

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