Topics of Conversation: A Novel

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Miranda Popkey’s debut novel Topics of Conversation is not for the faint of heart. It is, however, for every woman who’s ever felt herself an outsider—watching her own life, and the world around her, with little clarity on how to find happiness.

In the vignettes that make up the book, all connected by an unnamed narrator, Popkey creates a life of one woman struggling with desire, self-loathing, and pain. Covering a span of seventeen years, the narrator experiences marriage, loss, motherhood, anger, jealousy, and nearly every other emotion one can name, and her life is rendered with sharp, witty prose that keeps you turning pages even when you aren’t certain you like her. That the narrator doesn’t like herself much may be the genius of Popkey’s novel. She’s a modern woman with no anchor—absolutely certain in her feminism but also craving, at times, to be controlled—what does that make her if not perpetually at war with herself?

The book is small but powerful, and readers should note there are elements of violence and sexuality that pepper nearly every chapter. These moments aren’t gratuitous—they are achingly real—but if you’re looking for an escapist love story, this isn’t your novel. If, however, you are interested in hearing this woman’s story, and perhaps considering the stories you tell yourself and what they mean, this is an absolute must-read.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 224 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2020-01-07
ISBN 9780525656289 Buy this Book
Issue March 2020
Category Modern Literature


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