Outline, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION A woman arrives in Athens in the height of summer to teach a writing course.

Once there, she becomes the audience to a chain of narratives as the people she meets tell her one after another the stories of their lives.

Beginning with the neighbouring passenger on the flight out and his tales of fast boats and failed marriages, the storytellers talk of their loves and ambitions and pains, their anxieties, their perceptions and daily lives.

In the stifling heat and noise of the city the sequence of voices begins to weave a complex human tapestry: the experience of loss, the nature of family life, the difficulty of intimacy and the mystery of creativity itself. SHORTLISTED FOR THE FOLIO PRIZE, THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE AND LONGLISTED FOR THE IMPAC PRIZE


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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

A beautiful piece of Knausgaard-like writing and character study, even though the main character, a writing teacher from England teaching in Greece for a week, is described only through her interactions with other people. I think these sentences from the end of the book describe perfectly what Cusk was trying to do: ". . . while he talked she began to see herself as a shape, an outline, with all the detail filled in around it while the shape itself remained blank. Yet this shape, even while its content remained unknown, gave her for the first time since the incident a sense of who she now was."That technique of explaining a character through her encounters with other people, reminds me a little, though in a different way, of Olive Kitteridge.Now I must read her memoirs!

Review by

This is a difficult book to summarise. At face value it has almost no plot - a writer travels to Athens to host a creative writing course and has a series of conversations, mostly with strangers. The power lies in the conversations themselves, which cover a wide range of subjects, one might almost say they cover all human life. Cusk's writing is always stylish and perceptive.

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