A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A “furious and addictive new novel” (The New York Times) about mothers and daughters, and one woman's midlife reckoning as she flees her suburban life.
“A virtuosic, singular and very funny portrait of a woman seeking sanity and purpose in a world gone mad.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“Riddled with insights into aging, womanhood, and discontent, Wayward is as elegant as it is raw, and almost as funny as it is sad.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“A comic, vital new novel.” (The New Yorker)
Samantha Raymond's life has begun to come apart: her mother is ill, her teenage daughter is increasingly remote, and at fifty-two she finds herself staring into "the Mids" - that hour of supreme wakefulness between three and four in the morning in which women of a certain age suddenly find themselves contemplating motherhood, mortality, and, in this case, the state of our unraveling nation.
When she falls in love with a beautiful, decrepit house in a hardscrabble neighborhood in Syracuse, she buys it on a whim and flees her suburban life - and her family - as she grapples with how to be a wife, a mother, and a daughter, in a country that is coming apart at the seams.
Dana Spiotta's Wayward is a stunning novel about aging, about the female body, and about female complexity in contemporary America. Probing and provocative, brainy and sensual, it is a testament to our weird times, to reforms and resistance and utopian wishes, and to the beauty of ruins.
A New York Times Critics' Top Book of the Year
One of the Best Books of the Year: New York Times, Washington Post, Vogue, The Guardian, and more
A Best Book of the Summer: USA Today, Town & Country, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Buzzfeed, Real Simple, The Millions, and more
“Furious and addictive.... Sam [is] an ideal guide, rash, funny, searching, entirely unpredictable, appalled at her own entitlement and ineffectuality - drawn with a kind of skeptical fondness.... So much contemporary fiction swims about in its own theories; what a pleasure to encounter not just ideas about the thing, but the thing itself - descriptions that irradiate the pleasure centers of the brain, a protagonist so densely, exuberantly imagined, she feels like a visitation.” (Parul Sehgal, The New York Times)
“Dana Spiotta is one of the most alert, ambitious, nuanced, and, yes, smartest of our contemporary novelists.... Spiotta’s novels, always rich with ideas and atmosphere, often focus on the arts.... Here, architecture connects to Wayward’s larger meditations about impermanence and decay - human, structural and even national.” (Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air)
“Thrilling...Spiotta’s novels are unfailingly dense with life - the textures, digressions, and details thereof - and Wayward is no exception. The novel is at once satirical and earnest: Sam asks what she can do to atone for her thoughtless privilege, what role she might play as an agent of change. There’s much comedy in the asking, but the novel makes clear that the answers aren’t straightforward. Spiotta offers grand themes and beautiful peripheral incidents...she writes with sly humor and utter seriousness; a rare articulation of midlife now. For this reader, there is uncommon pleasure in the paradoxes of this climacteric tale.” (Claire Messud, Harper’s Magazine)