An electrifying debut novel of obsessive love, family secrets, and the dangers of living our lives online
“Packed with tension, pathos, and vitality . . . This is a potent first novel from a formidable talent.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The best fictional account I’ve read of the way the internet has shaped our inner lives.” — Guardian (UK)
At twenty-three Alice Hare, a loner, arrives in New York with only the vaguest of plans: to find a city to call home. Instead she discovers the online profile of a Japanese writer called Mizuko Himura, whose stories blur the line between autobiography and fiction. Alice becomes infatuated with Mizuko from afar, convinced this stranger’s life holds a mirror to her own. Realities multiply as Alice closes in on her “internet twin,” staging a chance encounter and inserting herself into his orbit. When Mizuko disappears, Alice is alone and adrift again. Tortured by her silence, Alice uses the only tool at her disposal, writing herself back into Mizuko’s story, with disastrous consequences.
“A smart and lyrical evocation of that murky emotional terrain between our online and offline selves.” — Vice (UK)
“At once a riveting mystery and a literary tour de force, Sympathy had me spellbound from the first page to the last.” — Emily Gould, author of Friendship
New York Times Book Review Paperback Row
One of NPR's "Best Books of 2017"
One of Entertainment Weekly's "16 Debut Novels to Read in 2017"
One of the Observer's "New Faces of Fiction for 2017"
One of Elle UK’s “Six Top Debut Authors of 2017”?
One of Esquire’s “8 Best Summer Reads”?
One of i-D/Vice's "10 Brilliant Emerging Female Authors to Read in 2017"
One of the Guardian’s “The Best Debut Fiction” 2017 titles
One of the Independent's "10 best debut novels by women authors"
One of Flavorwire's "10 Must-Read Books for April"
One of Bustle's "11 Of The Best Fiction Books Coming Out In April 2017"
One of ReadItForward's "17 Books We're Excited to Read in 2017"
One of the Lady Magazine's "Must-reads for 2017" (UK)
One of Refinery 29's "2017 Books We're Most Excited About Right Now?" (UK)
One of Autostraddle's "45 Queer Feminist Books To Read in Early 2017"
One of Hello Giggles's "15 new books we can’t wait to read in April"
One of Signature Read's "Nowhere to Hide: 5 Books on the Changing Art of Stalking?"
“Clever, riddled with a network of allusions similar to that of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics…Olivia Sudjic’s smart debut novel is an uncomfortably contemporary tale of unrequited love in the internet age.”—NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"Sympathy will double-click your heart."—VANITY FAIR
“In the digital age, the lives of glamorous others have never felt more tantalizingly near, or so finds the lonely antiheroine of Olivia Sudjic’s Sympathy.”—VOGUE
"Sudjic’s figurative approach to depicting social media is what really marks [Sympathy] as thefirst truly literary book largely about Instagram...Sympathy is an exceptionally unnerving read. The book explores digital power dynamics, and the deep implication of our selves with these dynamics, with a sophistication that never feels pretentious. Sympathy is a remarkable debut, and with the arrival of such a novelist we can finally welcome our techno-dystopian future with open arms."—NEW REPUBLIC
"Sympathy is a sneaky, subtle debut novel about intimacy, aspiration and the Internet. As the protagonist, Alice, stalks and befriends her Instagram hero in a worsening spiral of obsession, the reader falls into something like the glassy-eyed fugue state you reach after too much online scrolling: mesmerized, inert, unable to stop."—NPR
"If last summer’s must-read debut was Emma Cline’s The Girls, this year it’s undoubtedly Olivia Sudjic’s remarkable Sympathy."—VOGUE(UK)
"In this zeitgeisty debut, Olivia Sudjic has revealed herself to be an erudite writer who can weave together themes of online obsessions, family secrets and unexpected parallel lives...Filled with explosive intelligence and dark humour, Sympathy is both beautiful and raw, and captures the essence of personal responsibility in the digital age."—ELLE (UK)
“Olivia Sudjic’s smart, savvy debut novel is a digital-age cautionary tale about liking too much, following too intensely and unraveling while striving to connect… Sudjic excavates the dark depths of the soul, but she also hits us with regular bouts of comic brilliance…This is a fresh, topical, switched-on novel…Sympathy is fact-filled, but it is also packed with tension, pathos and vitality…This is a potent first novel from a formidable talent.”—MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
“Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic [is] the best fictional account I’ve read of the way the internet has shaped our inner lives. A literary thriller that confirms the arrival of a major new talent.”—THE GUARDIAN
"A new direction for literature and fiction."—NPR, Weekend Edition
"The book of the summer...Sympathy opens with what must be the most intense description of an Instagram follow request ever committed to print...With this, the stage is set for a contemporary tale of obsession...What makes Sympathy such a standout in its approach to social media is a move way from Black Mirror-style satire and, instead, a smart and lyrical evocation of that murky emotional terrain between our online and offline selves...Full of wry humour and sharp observations."—VICE (UK)
"[Part of] the new guard...representing a very modern take on sexuality and identity...[Sudjic] cleverly explores what damage our smartphones are doing to our souls."—STYLIST (UK)
“A fascinating story about how we connect in the digital age… Imagine Alice Through the Looking Glass for the Instagram generation and you’ll get a sense of Sympathy… it explores the obsession of one young woman with another, an obsession fed by social media feeds and resulting in a slow but devastating slippage of identity… At more than 400 pages, Sympathy serves up David Mitchell levels of plot; it is also subtly mimetic… [its] narrative advances like a search, link by link, as Alice follows her nose through meat – and cyberspace – leaving not breadcrumbs but photos behind… But if Sympathy is in part a cautionary tale, its author is very far from po-faced: abuzz with ideas and enthusiasm, she leaves you convinced that there’s much, much more to come.”—OBSERVER, "Meet the new faces of fiction for 2017"
"As the novel [...] so chillingly illustrates, what social media actually offers is more often the illusion of connection...Fittingly, the narrative is held together by a dream-like disjointedness...the reading experience rendered akin to that of losing oneself online...A gripping odyssey into one woman’s online-addled inner life that shrewdly ties together the age-old hubris of youth with a particular sort of new digital naïveté."—INDEPENDENT (UK)
"[Sympathy] represents an extraordinary coming together of stories and ideas."—THE SPECTATOR (UK)
"A young woman is consumed by obsession in a thrilling debut that skewers our digital culture...engrossing...Novels often handle digital culture gingerly, as a strange new world that is somehow alien to our own and to that of the written page. Sudjic's achievement is to incorporate this world at a granular level; it provides both the mechanisms necessary to propel her plot and the texture that defines her characters and their experience of New York...Sympathy is an intelligent and absorbing literary thriller that promises much for the future."—FINANCIAL TIMES (UK)
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