What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez - review by Anthony Cummins

Anthony Cummins

Between Friends

What Are You Going Through


Virago 224pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The vogue for autofiction has brought developments to cherish as well as indulgences to deride. One of the reasons the term has caught on is the appeal not so much of novels based on their authors’ lives – that isn’t new – but of an approach to storytelling that is attractively minimalist in terms of narrative furniture. In Sigrid Nunez’s new novel, for instance, the fact that the two central figures – the narrator and her dying friend – are never named only adds to the reality effect: they don’t need introducing, they just are. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the narrator’s friend is just one of several characters in the story to express an impatience with books: ‘I keep wanting to say, Why are you telling me all this?

Nunez has been writing novels since the 1990s. When her previous book, The Friend, won the National Book Award two years ago, it was a sign that fashion had caught up with her interest in autobiographical fiction. What Are You Going Through is narrated by a female writer who is

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