Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday


A singularly inventive and unforgettable debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art, from 2017 Whiting Award winner Lisa Halliday.Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, “Folly,” tells the story of Alice, a youn...

Details Asymmetry

Release DateFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherSimon & Schuster
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Womens Fiction

Reviews Asymmetry

  • Angela M
    There were things that I liked about this “novel “ in three parts. In the first part, “Folly”, I especially loved the literary references, the music, and I loved the baseball talk. Having lived in the Boston area I definitely understand the Red Sox - Yankees rivalry and we lived there in 2004 when they won the World Series. ( Go Sox! They are still my favorite team and even though I have moved back home to New York State.) At first I thou...
  • Diane S ☔
    3.5 I did not feel an emotional connection to this book, but I did find it intellectually stimulating. Something very different, very original and elegantly conceived. Two novellas, which are written very differently, the first a famous author, an older man, already successful, his life near the end. A younger woman, Alice, in her late twenties, an editor, still trying to find herself, her life just beginning to unfold. They have an affair, and k...
  • Esil
    3.5 stars, although my thoughts on this one are a bit asymmetrical.It’s a book of themes, with asymmetry as the centerpiece. It’s broken into three parts of uneven length, tenuously connected to each other. The first part features an asymmetrical relationship between the narrator, a young woman named Mary Alice, and an aging famous writer. The second part is told from the perspective of an Iraqi American man, flitting back and forth in time a...
  • Gumble's Yard
    Asymmetry is the debut novel of Lisa Halliday. The book consists of two novellas and coda. The first novella, set in the early 2000s tells the story of Alice – both the opening and closing of this novella, make it clear that the characters name is a very explicit nod to the Alice of Lewis Carroll. An aspiring writer, working at a publisher in New York she bumps into the famous, multiple Pulitzer Prize winning now elderly writer Ezra Blaze – a...
  • Neil
    If I am honest, it took me a few pages to get properly into this book, but I am very glad I did because it develops into a fascinating book that is almost more enjoyable on reflection than it is during reading. I think I’ve spent almost as long pondering it as I spent reading it.The book consists of two novellas followed by a coda. At first sight, the novellas are very different from one another. One tells the story of Alice who works for a New...
  • Paula Bardell-Hedley
    Two novellas set in different countries with apparently unrelated characters - plus an ingenious tailpiece. There is a connection, but you need to be on the qui vive to see it coming.Asymmetry, as the title implies, is a novel about life's lack of symmetry. A young woman has an affair with a man considerably older than herself. He is a rich, successful, world-famous writer, she a lowly editorial assistant. His health is failing. He is needy and l...
  • Kasa Cotugno
    Lisa Halliday has created a work of stunning originality. Consisting of three distinct sections, Asymmetry presents more of a work of concept than either plot or character. The three plots have subtle connections that the reader sometimes has to work at discovering. The first, Folly, concerns the May/December romance of Alice, a young editor living in an upper west side apartment, and her relationship with Ezra Blazer, a much older, prominent aut...
  • Jill
    I had mixed feelings while reading the book, and I still feel the same after thinking about it for a few days. I found the connection between the sections to be somewhat interesting but not all that surprising based on a clue we were given in the first section. You clearly need to read all three sections to get the full impact, but I found the first section hard to get through. I’m hoping there is more meaning or substance to the book than what...
  • Paul Fulcher
    For her part, Alice was starting to consider really rather seriously whether a former choirgirl from Massachusetts might be capable of conjuring the consciousness of a Muslim man. “Great American Novel” =”doorstop of a book, usually pretentious, written by a man.”Lionel Shriver (Independent 2010)I suspect, even in January, the oddest book I will read this year as I don’t quite get what the author is achieving other than annoying her rea...
  • Jill
    Asymmetry is defined as the lack of equality or equivalence between parts or aspects of something. And within these two novellas (and a 30-page coda that very subtly reveals how the two novellas are tied together), there is much asymmetry that can be pointed to, both in life and in fiction.The first novella introduces us to Alice, a young editor who goes down her own private rabbit hole when she begins a relationship with Ezra Blazer, a famous li...
  • Dan
    An absolutely fascinating read.The first part concerns itself with a romance between a young assistant editor at a publishing house and a much older, established author (think a Phillip Roth type). There's an educational component to their relationship. In addition, Alice, the assistant editor, struggles with whether or not she's making the right choices, choosing to be with this man instead of someone her own age. The second part follows Amar, a...
  • Chrissie
    I really enjoyed this. As I was reading, it reminded me of Cloud Atlas because the sections seemed completely different. Having read the description, I knew the sections would connect and I like the subtle way they did.
  • Dave
    This is a hard one to do my quasi reviews on without giving it away but here it goes.This is a story told in 3 novellas 2 of which I could see a clear correlation but I didn't immediately see how the 2nd was connected to the larger picture.The writing was excellent and I really enjoyed the metafictional aspects, and literary references sprinkled largely throughout the first novella. The second part of this story was a very interesting way of show...
  • Brooke
    In an era of bloated, meandering novels, Lisa Halliday manages to tell two tight, but connected stories (”Folly” and “Madness”) plus a coda in 288 pages in her debut novel Asymmetry. And, she does it with style and grace. There’s no doubt that Halliday is bound to be a bold new literary voice, and she has already received an award from The Whiting Foundation for her work. In “Folly,” readers enter the poignant May-December romance b...
  • Melissa
    I won this as a Goodreads giveaway. 3.5 starsInteresting approach with the combo of novellas and coda. I’m doubting my ability to adequately uncover the connection between the pieces. I have some guesses, but consider them weak attempts at fully grasping the author's intentions.
  • Liz
    2017-12-27 agree with the publisher's use of the word 'inventive' in describing this debut novel, Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday. The book consists of two novellas and a coda. I enjoyed both novellas, so different in the setting and characterization. The coda was fun and a well-tuned summation of an old very accomplished male novelist. I rarely make an issue of likability of characters, but I have to say that the two young...
  • Jill Elizabeth
    OK, I seem to be on a rough run, review-wise, and it's starting to wear on me. This is yet another book that I thought sounded so interesting and that turned out to lose me COMPLETELY... I will grant that the book was original - I have not read anything like it. I will grant that Halliday is a strong writer - there were some very lovely (and some equally disturbing) sections in the text that were resonant and poignant and pointed and sharply spot...
  • Megan Schwab
    Asymmetry is a book comprised of seemingly separate stories, but they are all subtly linked. These three stories connect, but not overtly, and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it. In the first story, Folly, we are thrown into the world of Ezra and Alice, a seasoned, lauded author and the young editor he romances. The second is Madness, the story of Amar, an American son of Iraqi immigrants, who is held in London on a layover under suspici...
  • Josephine Sanderson
    This book gives the reader two very different stories that appear completely unrelated. Each story on its own is engaging, but gives the reader a sense of being unfinished. Together, the stories cause the reader to explore parallels among the lives of seemingly opposite people. I found the story and characters to be quite enjoyable. Days after reading the book, I am still finding ways the stories were intertwined.
  • Katherine
    I received an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway. Much as I tried, I found this book trying to hard to be something it isn’t. It is trying to be a complete novel when it is actually three different pieces of literature that are supposed to be threaded together. Would I try something by the author again in the future, certainly. The pieces were well written. I just didn’t get emotionally invested in the characters so this book fell flat for me.
  • Small Fish
    Multilayered and thought-provoking, this novel doesn't offer an unequivocal, one-way reading. Much to admire here, but I would highlight a scene in the second section, "Madness", that is set in a hotel that was used by many foreign journalists during the protracted Iraqi conflicts, the Hamra hotel in Baghdad. One of the best things I have read in a long time. Recommended.
  • Pat
    Finished this book last night, and my mind keeps turning it over and finding more.Read this book, even if while you are reading it, it does not seem all that impressive. It is actually very powerful.I received an ARC from GoodReads
  • Thomas
    Excellent debut. 4.5 Stars
  • Jay
    A Goodreads giveaway book.
  • Jan
    I enjoyed this book very much. I read it in a couple sittings and the went back and read the third part again. This is not an A-Z plotted story, but all three sections are compelling and thought provoking. I would rate it as one of my favorite books that I read this year but subtracted a star for too much baseball and the warning no that it is not a tradition novel. This will be released in early 2018. I received a digital ARC from NetGalley.
  • Faith 09
    I really enjoyed this book.