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, Novels, Contemporary

Reviews Asymmetry

  • Larry H
    I'm between 3 and 3.5 stars.How do you judge a book—do you just consider whether or not you liked it, or do you also take into consideration whether or not the author's attempt at conveying a message worked for you? This dilemma arose for me after reading Lisa Halliday's debut novel, Asymmetry . The book is unevenly divided into three novellas. I loved the first one, enjoyed parts of the second one, and really didn't understand the purpose of ...
  • 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...
  • Elyse
    Library Overdrive - spontaneous- ‘available’ download. This is one of those books I had seen around - but couldn’t remember reading anything about it. So- while out walking - with no reviews in front of me - I took it for a test run and liked the beginning right away.,It started off with a BANG....( kinda creepy)...but totally addicting. I mean - would you like knowing your daughter was having an affair with an old Jewish geezer? Me either ...
  • Andrew Smith
    Three stories – well two really, one being told in two parts.1. A young female editor has a sexual relationship with an eminent, ageing writer. We are told little of the woman other than that we directly observe. What we observe is that she seems rather naive and lonely and does little other than meet with the writer, receiving random (and sometimes slightly strange) gifts, and that she also has occasional interactions with an elderly woman who...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    I know what I'm supposed to experience with this book, and it was this promise that forced me through to the end (I was stalled at 42% for a while, choosing to read other books):"These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda."There are two major stories, one with a young woman in an inexplicable relationship with an o...
  • Gumble's Yard
    Update: one wonders if the death of Philip Roth will increase the chances of this book being listed for some literary prizes in the UK or US.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 aspir...
  • 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...
  • Doug Bradshaw
    There are two virtually unrelated stories here. The first section is a realistic story of the affair an aging (single) well known author has with a much younger girl, Alice, who is an editor. In that the cute author actually dated Phillip Roth for a time, much of the story must have been based on that relationship. As an older male, I enjoyed their relationship and I know many successful older men attract young women for a lot of different reason...
  • Peter Boyle
    There has been quite an amount of hype about this novel in recent weeks. From the reviews I skimmed, I gathered that it contained two seemingly unrelated stories, and then a coda which would shed light on how they are linked and magically uncover hidden depths that the reader hadn't previously considered. Count me in, I thought, this sounds fascinating.The first story, Folly, tells of Alice, a twenty-something editor for a New York book publisher...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Lauren
    I should have trusted my instinct and stopped after the first section. That being said, the second section was better than the first. (I waffled between 1 and 2 stars for the second section's sake). Things that other reviewers noted about the revelations in the final section were not clear to me at all, and that just compounded my dislike of this book. The best thing about this is the cover art.I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway.
  • Meike
    Well, this book is aptly named: In "Asymmetry", Lisa Halliday works with factual and perceived asymmetries regarding time, power, and place, tying together the lives of three protagonists by presenting two novellas and an interview-style coda. The effect is often rather unsettling, and the direction in which the story moves seems surprising at first, but convincing once you read the whole thing. In the first novella, Alice, a Harvard graduate in ...
  • 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...
  • Silvanna
    This book is divided into three parts. The first section, FOLLY, is a joy to read and the relationship between Alice and Ezra is very compelling. I found Ezra to be a mesmerising character - cheeky, witty, selfish, rather roguish. But then the second section of the book, MADNESS, throws the reader into a completely unrelated story and a pretty boring story at that. Why are we introduced to Amar? What has his journey to London got to do with anyth...
  • Erin Glover
    This is not a beach or pool read. You must read the first story, Folly, carefully. Especially to understand the meaning of the second story, Madness. You may be able to decipher Madness before you get to the secret code, story three, Ezra Blazer’s Secret Island Discs. If you’re like me, you won’t decipher it even after that. This novel was a lot of fun for the cogno senti, the professional reviewers. The ones who knew what the second story ...
  • 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...
  • Mel (Epic Reading)
    Asymmetry is defined as: lack of equality or equivalence between parts or aspects of something; lack of symmetry ( Certainly there is little that is equal in Lisa Halliday's book. Broken into three parts we have: 1) A story of a 20-something woman and her affair (love?) with a man over 80. 2) The dialogue and back story of a dual citizen (Iraqi and American) man detained at an airport.3) An interview with the 80-something man and ...
  • Roman Clodia
    Lots of buzz about this book already - is it justified? Um, not really, in my view. Yes, it's clever, and thoughtful, and requires readers to pay attention to details and intertexts (Alice, looking-glasses, the name Amar, for example) but the payoff is less rewarding than I expected. Is it really news that patriarchal power manifests in private, personal relationships as well as public political ones? That storytelling can be a politicised act? T...
  • Rebecca Foster
    (3.5) I had read a lot about this novel before I started it, which helped. I was mostly interested in the Philip Roth connection: Halliday has been upfront about the fact that she had an affair with the much-older writer when she was a young editor in New York City. So the first section of Asymmetry, titled “Folly,” is clearly based directly on her experiences, shunted onto a naïve character named (Mary) Alice. But the clues as to how to rea...
  • jo
    I love this book so hard. And the author lives in my country. Boom.
  • ns510
    3.5 to stars.I liked this, but didn’t love it, mainly because I wasn’t wholly engaged by the entire thing. There was that sense of emotional distance which kept me from caring too much about the characters and their lives.Yet, the novel is interesting in narrative. It’s divided in three parts; the first is Folly, an almost trite vignette about a 27y young female editor named Mary-Alice, who strikes up a skewed relationship with Ezra Blazer,...
  • Dan Friedman
    3.5 stars.Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry consists of two novellas and one shtick. By now, you’ve probably read some of Asymmetry’s deliriously positive reviews in U.S., British, and Irish newspapers. You may even have overheard a few tut-tuts of moral disapprobation about Halliday’s backstory. You likely already know so much about Asymmetry that I’m justified in skipping a detailed recounting.“Folly,” the first novella, centers on an unl...
  • 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...
  • Britta Böhler
    I enjoyed some of it (mostly in the 2nd & 3rd part of the book), and the way Halliday tied it all together was rather clever. But the writing style was just not my cup of tea.
  • Mattia Ravasi
    Video reviewThis is not so surprisingly good because I expected it to be bad - far from it! - but because it follows up an already enticing first half with something that blew me away in terms of how beautifully it was written, the games it played, the points it made. Unbelievable.