For Rouenna A Novel

Sigrid Nunez




Trade Paperback

240 Pages



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A New York Times Notable Book

"After my first book was published, I received some letters." So begins Sigrid Nunez's haunting novel about the poignant and unusual friendship between a novelist and the retired army nurse who seeks her out. Among the letters the narrator receives is one from a Rouenna Zycinski, who recalls a forgotten childhood connection and asks for a meeting. First wary, then fascinated by the stories Rouenna tells about her life as a combat nurse in Vietnam, the narrator flatly declines her request that they collaborate on a memoir. Only later, in the aftermath of Rouenna's shocking death, is the narrator drawn to write about her friend—and her friend's war. Writing Rouenna's story becomes all-consuming, at once a necessity and a solace.

For Rouenna, an unforgettable novel about truth, memory, and unexpected heroism, is also a remarkable and surprising new look at war by one of the most gifted writers of her generation.


Praise for For Rouenna

"For Rouenna is about everything: war and remembrance, how we invent our 'selves' and why; why we kill ourselves. I was dazzled by this book."—The Washington Post Book World

"[Nunez] has a style so vigorous it can render even ordinary civilian weather with stunning freshness and immediacy."—The Boston Globe

"An entirely different kind of war novel . . . Nunez's Vietnam is assembled with a long lens and crafted in her spare gorgeous prose . . . What emerges is something that feels like truth."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Combines skillful prose and effortlessly graceful storytelling . . . A stellar addition to—and keen twist on—a genre that up until now has been dominated by men."—Time Out New York

"[Nunez's] best novel to date . . . Her spare voice . . . gives even the simplest descriptions of place and weather unsettling force and beauty."—The Village Voice

"Writing a nearly transparent prose, reminiscent of Richard Yates, Nunez takes us breathlessly through the slow unraveling of Rouenna's life and, like the events in Yates's stories, the details are harrowing."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[A] deceptively simple but elegantly composed novel . . . A rewarding experience."—The Seattle Times

"One of the best American novels I've read in a long time . . . [an] artful triptych of a novel."—The Women's Review of Books

"Piercing, sophisticated . . . an exquisitely rendered mix of memory, guilt, and unfinished business . . . a memorialization of an era and a declaration of the insufficiency of memorials when the past remains very much a part of our present."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Nunez fashions the Vietnam novel we didn't know we were missing . . . Make room for it on any shelf that holds books on America's lingering war."—New York Daily News

"Those of us who aren't firemen or nurses or doctors have been feeling a little lost since Sept. 11—what are we meant to do with ourselves? Nunez's book tells us just what to do."—Newsday

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Sigrid Nunez

  • Sigrid Nunez is the author of A Feather on the Breath of God, Naked Sleeper, and Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury. She has been the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award and of two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature.

  • Sigrid Nunez ©Marion Ettlinger