The Last of Her Kind: A Novel (Paperback)
A gorgeously written novel about two young women and their diverging paths through the social and political upheaval of the 1960's. I couldn't put it down. It was a book that I holed up with, turning down weekend invitations just so I could be alone with it. Nunez might have won the National Book Award for her 2018 novel, The Friend, but this remains her masterpiece.
-Summer— From Summer's Picks
The paths of two women from different walks of life intersect amid counterculture of the 1960s in this haunting and provocative novel from the National Book Award-winning author of The Friend
Named a Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Christian Science Monitor
Sigrid Nunez's The Last of Her Kind introduces two women who meet as freshmen on the Columbia campus in 1968. Georgette George does not know what to make of her brilliant, idealistic roommate, Ann Drayton, and her obsessive disdain for the ruling class into which she was born. She is mortified by Ann's romanticization of the underprivileged class, which Georgette herself is hoping college will enable her to escape. After the violent fight that ends their friendship, Georgette wants only to forget Ann and to turn her attention to the troubled runaway kid sister who has reappeared after years on the road. Then, in 1976, Ann is convicted of murder. At first, Ann's fate appears to be the inevitable outcome of her belief in the moral imperative to "make justice" in a world where "there are no innocent white people." But, searching for answers to the riddle of this friend of her youth, Georgette finds more complicated and mysterious forces at work.
The novel's narrator Georgette illuminates the terrifying life of this difficult, doomed woman, and in the process discovers how much their early encounter has determined her own path, and why, decades later, as she tells us, "I have never stopped thinking about her."
About the Author
Sigrid Nunez is the author of the novels A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind and For Rouenna. She has received several awards, including a Whiting Writers' Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She lives in New York City.
“A brilliant, dazzling, daring novel. Nunez has taken the old American dream and stood it on its head.” —The Boston Globe
“A passionate honesty grips the heart of The Last of Her Kind. . . . [A] subtle and profoundly moving novel about friendship, romantic idealism, and shame.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“A book that feels . . . like the discovery of a crucial document, the riveting archive of the lives of the last of all kinds of dreamers.” —Newsday
“An unflinching examination of justice, race, and political idealism that brings to mind Philip Roth's American Pastoral and the tenacious intelligence of Nadine Gordimer.” —The New York Times
“A remarkable and disconcerting vision of a troubled time in American history.” —The New Yorker
“Sigrid Nunez teaches an honors-level survey course in the sexual, political, and cultural movements that shaped the thinking (and rocked the world) of so many boomer women. Nunez's voice is unflinching and intimate, her novelistic structure as invitingly informal as jottings in a journal.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A compelling account of the 1960s and their aftermath, a carefully written and discerning narrative with closely drawn portraits of two prototypical yet unique women trying to construct a friendship across an unbridgeable class divide.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[A] powerful and acute social novel, perhaps the finest yet written about that peculiar generation of young Americans who believed their destiny was to shape history. . . . Don't miss it.” —Salon.com
“A masterful construction of the troubled conscience of the era and its aftermath.” —Kirkus Reviews
“There's much to admire here: incisive analysis about class, race, and the prison system, authoritative writing about the late '60s cultural landscape and lots of recognizable cultural markers of the time.” —Kansas City Star
“Rich in historical detail, this unpredictable novel zeroes in on what it means to renounce class privilege and sacrifice oneself in the service of human betterment. Stunningly powerful, it is highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“This is a novel about idealism and also about race relations, class, madness, rock music, and the true nature of love. It's a tribute to the skill and sensitivity of author Sigrid Nunez that The Last of Her Kind has something revelatory to say about each of these subjects. Decades from now, historians would do well to consult this book to get a true sense of how the upheavals of the late 1960s reverberated through the lives of young Americans from one who experienced this social earthquake firsthand.” —The Baltimore Sun
“Told in a pastiche of styles and jump-cuts from past to present, The Last of Her Kind serves as both an homage to--and an indictment of--an era. . . . Immensely refreshing.” —Boldtype
“Ambitiously conceived.” —The Washington Post Book World
“This engrossing, beautiful novel will enthrall readers.” —Booklist (starred review)
“By the end of this novel--propelled by rich, almost scholarly prose--all the parts come together to capture the violent idealism of the times while illuminating a moving truth about human nature.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)