Lisa Halliday takes the familiar trope of the older man/young woman dynamic and strips away everything except the humanity and existential concern of two people in their care and need for each other. Halliday has created a young aspiring writer with agency, well aware that even as she cares for a man decades older by performing mundane tasks, she is also a full companion in enjoying time together; talking about literature, watching a season of baseball, or spending time in the country, taking in the landscape or attending evening concerts. Halliday examines the life of an artist through her work by including an excerpt of the young writer’s novel in the second half of the book. In three parts Halliday has written a profound novel of the truth of a writer’s life and the arc of a writing career.— Sarah Bagby
NATIONAL BESTSELLER "Asymmetry is extraordinary...Halliday has written, somehow all at once, a transgressive roman a clef, a novel of ideas and a politically engaged work of metafiction." --Alice Gregory, The New York Times Book Review "A brilliant and complex examination of power dynamics in love and war." --Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal "A scorchingly intelligent first novel...Asymmetry will make you a better reader, a more active noticer. It hones your senses." --Parul Seghal, The New York Times A singularly inventive and unforgettable debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art, from 2017 Whiting Award winner Lisa Halliday. 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 an urgent, important, and truly original work that will captivate any reader while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself.