Rachel Cusk has been gained marvellous acclaim for fiction with the Outline Trilogy, three “literary masterpieces” whose narrator, Faye, perceives the world with a glinting, unsparing intelligence while remaining opaque to the reader. Lauded for the precision of her prose and the quality of her insight, Cusk is a writer of uncommon brilliance. Not always accessibly but incredible exploratory, Cusk pushes us a little outside of our comfort zone with the essays that exist within Coventry: Essays.
Rachel Cusk is not shy of prizes; Whitbread Award–winning author of two memoirs, including The Last Supper, and seven novels, including Arlington Park, Saving Agnes, The Temporary, The Country Life, and The Lucky Ones.
She has also won and been shortlisted for numerous prizes: her most recent novel, Outline (2014), was shortlisted for the Folio Prize, the Goldsmith’s Prize and the Bailey’s prize, and longlisted for Canada’s Giller Prize. In 2003, Rachel Cusk was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists.’
Coventry encompasses memoir, cultural criticism, and writing about literature, with pieces on family life, gender, and politics, and on D. H. Lawrence, Françoise Sagan, and Elena Ferrante. Named for an essay in Granta (“Every so often, for offences actual or hypothetical, my mother and father stop speaking to me. There’s a funny phrase for this phenomenon in England: it’s called being sent to Coventry”), this collection gives me an insight into Cusk and her writing which draws no harsh conclusions and allows our heads to whirl around issues such as ‘wimmins fiction’, a room of ones own along with many others. Indeed essential reading for our age: fearless, astute, and stimulating to say the least.
Now, in Coventry, she gathers a selection of her nonfiction writings that both offers new insights on the themes at the heart of her fiction and forges a startling critical voice on some of our most personal, social, and artistic questions. These writings have one thing in common, that Cusk is indeed a women and a writer and these essays collectively give us some thoughts and ideas around many of the issues about being a women, and well being a writer. Prose that draws your attention and captures a voice, Coventry is a collection of essays I would refer back to again.
Coventry: Essays is out now, published by Faber