The Friend by Sigrid NunezThe Friend

Riverhead Books, February 2018

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unravelling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.



"The intensity and elegance of The Friend mean two things: you cannot put it down and you will cry. In a novel about loss and the loneliness of writing and imagination, Sigrid Nunez creates an irresistible tale of love and an unforgettable Great Dane. A beautiful, beautiful book — the most original canine love story since My Dog Tulip." — Cathleen Schine, bestselling author of They May Not Mean To, But They Do

“Quietly brilliant and darkly funny…. so elegant—so dismissive of conventional notions of plot—it hardly feels like fiction. Breathtaking both in pain and in beauty; a singular book.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Rivetting … This elegant novel explores both rich memories and day-to-day mundanity, reflecting the way that, especially in grief, the past is often more vibrant than the present.”— Publishers Weekly

The Friend is the newest, and one of the most impressive, additions to a growing canon of reality-hungry books…. Like other books before it, The Friend feels like an artful reconstruction of real events, and thoughts and feelings, from its author’s life…. Nunez’s prose, and the prose of the writers and artists she quotes from, is delightfully aphoristic—turn to any page and you will find a sentence worth reading out loud to a friend or co-worker. Elegiac but funny, with a narrator who’s smart and approachable, The Friend is a book I savored, and will happily revisit in the future.” — John Francisconi, Bank Square Books

Named a Most Anticipated Title of 2018 by Book Riot