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Grappling with motherhood, economic anxiety, rage, and the limits of language, Want is a fiercely personal novel that vibrates with anger, insight, and love.
Elizabeth is tired. Years after coming to New York to try to build a life, she has found herself with two kids, a husband, two jobs, a PhD—and now they’re filing for bankruptcy. As she tries to balance her dream and the impossibility of striving toward it while her work and home lives feel poised to fall apart, she wakes at ungodly hours to run miles by the icy river, struggling to quiet her thoughts.
When she reaches out to Sasha, her long-lost childhood friend, it feels almost harmless—one of those innocuous ruptures that exist online, in texts. But her timing is uncanny. Sasha is facing a crisis, too, and perhaps after years apart, their shared moments of crux can bring them back into each other’s lives.
In Want, Lynn Steger Strong explores the subtle violences enacted on a certain type of woman when she dares to want things—and all the various violences in which she implicates herself as she tries to survive.
Named a Poets and Writers "Galley Crush"
One of Vulture's "29 Books We Can't Wait To Read This Summer"
One of TIME Magazine's "45 New Books You Need To Read This Summer"
One of NY Post's "30 Best Summer Books to Help You Escape 2020"
"Lynn Steger Strong’s Want is a defining novel of our age of left-behind families. . . .as if Anne Helen Peterson’s viral burnout article and John Steinbeck’s oeuvre had a baby. . . an ideal sample of how to produce fiction that is timely and timeless. . . It’s appeal right now may have something to do with the ways it thoughtfully plays with autofiction, darting in with details from Strong’s real life, then knowingly inflating and reshaping plot points, a wise reimagining of what we can do with our own stories. . . .But it’s also due to the prose — liquid, tender, fluttering — which keeps this story easy, perhaps too easy, to read. It’s an odd pleasure — a difficult story that is winningly told. You’ll feel guilty for enjoying it as much as you do.”
—Vulture, "Want Is The Summer Book I Couldn't Put Down"
"A smart, sharp novel."
—Elle, "The 30 Most Anticipated New Books of Summer 2020"
"Strong astutely explores the complexities of wanting within biased systems — as a woman, whose desires are so often quashed, but also as a white woman raised with wealth and the message that anything desired can be attained."
—Buzzfeed, "29 Summer Books You Won't Be Able to Put Down"
"Highlight[s] the costs of wanting itself -- and the violence that can accompany those desires."
—Good Morning America, "25 Novels You'll Want To Read This Summer"
"Seemingly destined to be the book about which I will have the most conversations with my friends this summer, Want is a propulsive interrogation into desire in all its forms."
—Refinery29 "The 25 Books You'll Want to Read This Summer"
"So engrossing and hard to put down, it feels less like reading a book and more like inhaling a universe, one that you were waiting for and didn’t know it. . . .Want is funny and irreverent and is laced with that peculiar mix of desire and apathy that comes from wanting more . . . .A story of marriage, sacrifice, and longing. It’s the story of want: that is, the unending desire to live a good, true life."
—Lit Hub "The Best New Books to Read This Summer"
"Lynn Steger Strong’s Want is a reader’s novel, which is to say that it is rife with mentions of other novelists (Jean Rhys, Iris Murdoch, Doris Lessing, Anita Brookner) and both indebted to and an homage to their work." —Vulture, "32 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020"
"A surprising examination of privilege, the lives we share with others, and motherhood."
—Book Riot, "9 Great Books About Motherhood"
"Strong writes womanhood with brutal honesty; exhaustion, love, desire, anxiety, and the devastation of unfulfilled expectations permeate every page. . . .Strong’s writing consistently distills bitter truths in understated yet penetrating ways. A wise, unflinching, and compelling novel about womanhood."
—Kirkus, starred review
"Strong has an uncanny way of pulling the reader into the heart of her narrative and creating an intimate portrayal of relationships that are fractured but necessary. . . [Want] will appeal to lovers of Mrs Dalloway and Ducks, Newburyport. . . .and will have you dabbing away at your eyes and swallowing that lump in your throat."
"Impressive. . .This is well worth a look."
"Furious, aching and razor sharp, Want is a beautiful book."
—Emma Cline, NYT bestselling author of The Girls
"A deeply intelligent and sneakily moving novel about having the ground fall away beneath your feet. Strong ingeniously undercuts conventional wisdom about what it means to be a success in this world."
—Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation
"Teacher, mother, best friend, wife and more. Is there any time or space left for Elizabeth outside of these roles? Lynn Steger Strong illustrates the heroic act of one woman trying her best to keep it all together; succeeding and failing and trying again. Want is honest and funny and profoundly moving. I tore through this book in two days and when it was over I wanted to start it again.”
—Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling
"Lynn Steger Strong’s Want is a fierce, funny, and consistently surprising exploration of friendship, bankruptcy, motherhood, and that slippery thing we call privilege. The voice is electric and nuanced; it feels possessed by a rare, inexplicable urgency. It’s less that this novel peels away the surfaces of daily life—school pick-up, subway commutes, vomiting toddlers—to expose the deeper truths dwelling underneath, and more that it exposes the ways those deep truths already saturate every crevice of our day-to-day lives. Once I started reading this book, I kept reading it compulsively—in a kind of fever—and since finishing, I’ve found myself returning frequently to its insights, grateful for their fervor, their complexity, and their grace."
—Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, The Recovering, and The Gin Closet
“It’s not just the story of what it is to be a mother and wife, a daughter and friend, a citizen and employee—Want is a novel about what it is to be alive right now, one that truly captures the urgency of human thought and feeling.”
—Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty and That Kind of Mother
"I felt a giddy sort of love for Lynn Steger Strong’s new novel Want. It’s not like anything else: caustic and despairing and sometimes, unexpectedly, laugh out loud funny. Sentence after sentence, this book took my breath away."
—Marcy Dermansky, author of Very Nice and Bad Marie