The Last of Her Kind A Novel

Sigrid Nunez

Picador

0312425945

9780312425944

Trade Paperback

400 Pages

$19.00

CAD22.00

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The Last of Her Kind introduces two women who meet as freshman on the Barnard 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 in searching for answers to the riddle of this friend of her youth, Georgette finds more complicated and mysterious forces at work.

As 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 tell us, "I have never stopped thinking about her."

REVIEWS

Praise for The Last of Her Kind

"A compelling account of the 1960s and their aftermath, a carefully written and discerning narrative with closely drawn portraits of prototypical yet unique women trying to construct a friendship across and unbridgeable class divide . . . The Last of Her Kind appears to share common ground with novels like The Group by Mary McCarthy and ona Jaffe's Class Reunion. And the historical events, both real and invented, that provide its backdrop give Nunez's story tragic dimensions . . . Nunez's keen powers of observation make her a natural chronicler. It's not hard to suspect she has plenty of good stories about her own life to tell."—Megan Marshall, The New York Times Book Review
 
"A remarkable novel for those whose trendiness is in decline. This story of a complicated friendship is likely to strike a chord with readers, especially women, who were at an impressionable age during the 1960's and 70's . . . full of incident and high drama . . . The author's name, Sigrid Nunez, is not widely known beyond the literary establishment that has bestowed several important prizes on her, but the scope and power of her fifth novel should bring her much wider acclaim . . . One of the best moments in the book is when the meaning of the title is revealed. Like so much else here, it startles and lingers long in the heart and mind."—Elizabeth Benedict, The New York Times
 
"Nunez confronts big questions of moral complexity, the arrogant underside of idealism, the shifting line between principles and fanaticism, and America's fascination with violence. The Last of Her Kind focuses not only on the kind of violence unleashed by a declaration of war, or fired from the barrel of a gun, but also on the more intimate violence of suppressed anger and missed opportunities between husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and lovers . . . Nunez is a gifted storyteller."—Renee Shea, Poets & Writers
 
"Brilliant, dazzling, daring . . . the keenest comparison is to The Great Gatsby, American idealism wedded to materialism. This novel will make you rethink Gatsby and it's reputation as the great masterpiece of American literature—no small feat."—The Boston Globe
 
"Remarkable . . . daring . . . [Sigrid Nunez] presents a homegrown American version of a special kind of monster in Ann, while also managing to make her appealing, intelectually compelling, movingly charasmatic."—San Francisco Chronicle
 
"The narrative style is as clear and affecting as ever, capturing the viewpoints and inflections of several characters without losing its compelling intensity . . . Ms. Nunez is a writer more interested in people than politics. She is far more interested in showing how individual lives are shaped by politics than in trying to explain how politics shapes the course of history. Exploring, investigating and imagining the histories of her variegated characters, she takes us beneath the surface to the essential mysteries of the human heart."—Merle Rubin, The Wall Street Journal
 
"Idiosyncratic, provocative and sublimely confident . . . a document of an era through characters who begin to seem like historical icons whose names we should remember. It's responsible, feminist, uncompromising and hugely informative but never patronizing. She shows us the crowds and the big ideas, conferring on them both nobility and intelligence. Nunez has created a book that feels both porous—there is room for our own accounts of these times—and like the discovery of a crucial document, the riveting archive of the lives of the last of all kinds of dreamers."—Newsday
 
"Refreshingly unsentimental . . . A touching, well-written story about '60s idealism that challenges the current slickness in ads that sell Woodstock and such to baby boomers . . . Nunez takes the clichés of the era's counterculture and shines a harsh light on them."—Paula Wehmeyer, BUST
 
“An honest, unflinching look at the times, the attitudes and the difficulties involved in an era when many people tried their damnedest to live as authentically as possible in the presence of so much wrong . . . To read this novel is to experience the turbulence, the anguish, the heightened sense of connectedness through the feeling that what some people did actually mattered.”—Tara Miller, The Antioch Review

"In The Last of Her Kind, Sigrid Nunez uncovers the sixties' dirtiest dirty little secret: class. This is an irresistible read for anyone who lived through the period, or who understands its importance for who we are and how we know ourselves as Americans."—Mary Gordon, author of Pearl

"Sigrid Nunez once again creates characters of such depth and situations of such vivid moral complexity that reading these pages is like living them. Only as I closed the book did I sadly realize that George and Ann weren't my neighbors. But happily I can revisit them again, and again, in this beautiful and absorbing novel."—Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona

"Thoughtful, soulful and painfully honest, Sigrid Nunez brilliantly reimagines the late '60s and its liberating yet scathing idealism. The Last of her Kind is an intimate, rich, eventful, perfectly balanced romance of two mismatched friends and their unsentimental educations."—Stewart O'Nan, author of The Good Wife
 
"Philosophically adroit . . . A masterful construction of the troubled conscience of the era and its aftermath."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"Layered, thoughtful . . . Nunez moves far past the obvious clichés about activism to show a character who . . . is . . . multifaceted and three-dimensional. Told in Georgette's graceful, introspective voice, this engrossing, beautiful novel will enthrall readers."—Kristine Huntley, Booklist (starred review)
 
"Every so often you close a book and the only word that comes to mind is 'wow.' This fifth offering from the award-winner Nunez is such a work . . . The novel is never heavy-handed but tells an intricate story that relies on morally complex characters and their friends and family . . . 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
 
"When Georgette George and Ann Drayton meet in 1968 as freshmen roommates at Barnard College, Georgette marvels that her privileged, brilliant roommate envies Georgette's rough, impoverished childhood. Through the vehicle of this fascinating friendship, Nunez's sophisticated new novel (after For Rouenna) explores the dark side of the countercultural idealism that swept the country in the 1960s. Hyperbolic even for the times, Ann's passionate commitment to her beliefs—unwavering despite the resentment from those she tries to help—haunts Georgette, the novel's narrator, long after the women's lives diverge. In 1976, Ann lands in prison for shooting and killing a policeman in a misguided attempt to rescue her activist black boyfriend from a confrontation. The novel's generous structure also gracefully encompasses the story of Georgette's more conventional adult life in New York (she becomes a magazine editor, marries, and bears two children), plus that of Georgette's runaway junkie sister. Nunez reveals Ann's life in prison via a moving essay by one of her fellow inmates. 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)

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Sigrid Nunez is the author of four novels including A Feather on the Breath of God and For Rouenna. She has received a Whiting Writers' Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She lives in New York City.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Sigrid Nunez

  • Sigrid Nunez is also the author of the novels A Feather on the Breath of God 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.
  • Sigrid Nunez ©Marion Ettlinger
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