White on White: A Novel (Hardcover)

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A "marvelous" (Lauren Groff) and "gentle, mysterious and profound” (Marina Abramović) novel about a woman who has come undone.

A student moves to the city to research Gothic nudes, renting an apartment from a painter, Agnes, who lives in another town with her husband. One day, Agnes arrives in the city and settles into the upstairs studio.

In their meetings on the stairs, in the studio, at the corner café, the kitchen at dawn, Agnes tells stories of her youth, her family, her marriage, and ideas for her art - which is always just about to be created. As the months pass, it becomes clear that Agnes might not have a place to return to. The student is increasingly aware of Agnes's disintegration. Her stories are frenetic; her art scattered and unfinished, white paint on a white canvas.
What emerges is the menacing sense that every life is always at the edge of disaster, no matter its seeming stability. Alongside the research into human figures, the student is learning, from a cool distance, about the narrow divide between happiness and resentment, creativity and madness, contentment and chaos.

White on White is a sharp exploration of empathy and cruelty, and the stunning discovery of what it means to be truly vulnerable, and laid bare.

About the Author

Ayşegül Savaş is the author of Walking on the Ceiling. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta, and elsewhere. She lives in Paris.

Praise For…

Praise for White on White

“In the middle ages, human skin was seen as a blanket stretched to cover a secret, inner life, writes Ayşegül Savaş.  Reading White on White for me is like an outer skin which you open layer by layer as you read; gentle, mysterious and profound.”
—Marina Abramović

"Ayşegül Savaş’ White on White is marvelous, as elegant as an opaque sheet of ice that belies the swift and turbulent waters beneath.”
—Lauren Groff

"White on White is a haunting, irresistible novel. I loved this book for its depth and perception, for its beauty and eerie rhythms, but most of all for its wonderfully dream-like spell. It's breathtaking."
—Brandon Taylor

“A superb novel by an exceptionally elegant, intelligent, and original writer.”
—Sigrid Nunez

"I was riveted by it. The delicate restraint of the language just adds to its power." 
—Celia Paul

“The story at the heart of Ayşegül Savaş’s White on White is  like the title— subtly camouflaged. Savaş’s characters watch each other as they avoid themselves, in a slow, acute and obliterating double portrait."
—Leanne Shapton

"I read it in a day and slid into its world with total delight and admiration. It’s a deeply humane, quietly devastating, mesmerisingly beautiful masterpiece."
—Olivia Sudjic

“Despite the thriller-ish underpinning of the novel and the propulsive unfolding of the relationship at the book’s heart, Savas’ graceful and intellectual prose is the star of the show here. It makes air-light what might otherwise be a novel ponderous with weighty questions: What is the nature of art? Does it reveal or conceal? What is the nature of human connection? . . . . Like a prism, this novel brilliantly illuminates the human spectrum of connection and longing.” Kirkus, STARRED review

“Alluring… [T]he account of the perfect Agnes’s slow crumbling builds to an unsettling conclusion. Fans of Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy will appreciate this striking portrait.” —Publishers Weekly

"Savas expertly crafts another slim, quiet yet deep novel that will attract readers who seek well-written, character-driven fiction.” —Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593330517
ISBN-10: 059333051X
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: December 7th, 2021
Pages: 192
Language: English