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The Friend: A Novel



"A beautiful book … a world of insight into death, grief, art, and love." —Wall Street Journal

"A penetrating, moving meditation on loss, comfort, memory...Nunez has a wry, withering wit." —NPR

"Dry, allusive and charming…the comedy here writes itself.” The New York Times

A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.

“The contemplation of writing and the loss of integrity in our literary life form the heart of the novel...Nunez’s prose itself comforts us. Her confident and direct style uplifts—the music in her sentences, her deep and varied intelligence. She addresses important ideas unpretentiously and offers wisdom for any aspiring writer who, as the narrator fears, may never know this dear, intelligent friend—or this world that is dying. But is it dying? Perhaps. But with The Friend, Nunez provides evidence that, for now, it survives.” —The New York Times Book Review

"Charming... the comedy here writes itself... the novel's tone in general, however, is mournful and resonant... The snap of her sentences sometimes puts me in mind of Rachel Cusk." —The New York Times

“In crystalline prose, Nunez creates an impressively controlled portrait of the ‘exhaustion of mourning.’” —The New Yorker

“Everywhere in this novel it is impossible to separate love and companionship from loss...The Friend is one of those rare novels that, in the end, makes your heart beat slower.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“A beautiful book … crammed with a world of insight into death, grief, art, and love.” —Wall Street Journal

"A meditation on reading and writing, love and loss, The Friend is a work rich in literary allusions and anecdotes….With The Friend . . .  [Nunez’s] found the perfect pitch….Nunez’s prose is illuminated by a wit, warmth and wisdom all of her own. The Friend is a true delight: I genuinely fear I won’t read a better novel this year.” — The Financial Times

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