A study in disaffected youth, Green Girl is awash in the apathy and angst of today's directionless 20-somethings. Ruth, a young, beautiful American working as a shopgirl in London, wanders aimlessly from job to job and man to man. She sees her life as meaningless and can articulate only that she needs attention. Casting about in a swirl of drugs, sex, and alcohol, she is aware, but only slightly, of the vast amount of loss she has endured. With a dead mother and an ex-boyfriend (only referred to as HIM), she slogs through her dreary life, alone and indifferent. Yet of one thing she is certain: she is astonishingly beautiful. But to what end? What can her beauty do for her? Written with a keen sense of voice, Green Girl is a snapshot of ennui, and, at the same time, a throbbing dissertation on loneliness. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
With the fierce emotional and intellectual power of such classics as Jean Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight
, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
, and Clarice Lispector's The Hour of the Star
, Kate Zambreno's novel Green Girl
is a provocative, sharply etched portrait of a young woman navigating the spectrum between anomie and epiphany.
First published in 2011 in a small press edition, Green Girl was named one of the best books of the year by critics including Dennis Cooper and Roxane Gay. In Bookforum, James Greer called it "ambitious in a way few works of fiction are." This summer it is being republished in an all-new Harper Perennial trade paperback, significantly revised by the author, and including an extensive P.S. section including never before published outtakes, an interview with the author, and a new essay by Zambreno.
Zambreno's heroine, Ruth, is a young American in London, kin to Jean Seberg gamines and contemporary celebutantes, by day spritzing perfume at the department store she calls Horrids, by night trying desperately to navigate a world colored by the unwanted gaze of others and the uncertainty of her own self-regard. Ruth, the green girl, joins the canon of young people existing in that important, frightening, and exhilarating period of drift and anxiety between youth and adulthood, and her story is told through the eyes of one of the most surprising and unforgettable narrators in recent fiction — a voice at once distanced and maternal, indulgent yet blackly funny. And the result is a piercing yet humane meditation on alienation, consumerism, the city, self-awareness, and desire, by a novelist who has been compared with Jean Rhys, Virginia Woolf, and Elfriede Jelinek.
“A major step forward for a talented and whip-smart writer.” BookForum
“I can't recall the last time I read a book whose heroine infuriated and seduced me as completely as Kate Zambreno's Green Girl.” Vanity Fair
“[An] electric talent...a risqué darling [with] serious literary cachet.” The Rumpus
“It cracks, it zings. It makes you call your girlfriend and read sections aloud over the phone.” Kirkus Reviews
“The best word to describe Kate Zambreno's Green Girl is searing....A novel about a young woman who is learning how to perform her femininity, who is learning the power of it, the fragility of it.” Roxane Gay, Bookslut
“Brilliant....This is a book I could see savored by both a teen finding great solace in, and by someone like myself, who probably could not be more removed from the lifestyle of its matter.” HTMLGiant
“Not since Faulkner first arrested my heart and stole my breath in The Sound and the Fury have I been as ravaged by the language of a novel as in Kate Zambreno's Green Girl.” Lidia Yuknavitch
“An ambitious synthesis of millennial identity crisis, lyrical experimentation and emotional self-destruction....Zambreno has the writing chops for this unconventional journey.” Kirkus Reviews
“…elegant, crystalline, eminently readable…” L.A. Review of Books
“…a fresh and important new voice in literature.…Ambitious but difficult to pin down, smart, stylish, and filled with supercharged prose that pulsed with the searing intensity few writers could maintain throughout an entire book...” Flavorwire
“A deeply character-driven book, Green Girl allows its narrator to insert herself with pity, scorn or deliberate self-recognition, as though a god watching her creating crawl fitfully through the city streets..." Shelf Awareness
“Zambreno's novel unfolds with a filmic quality, of scenes playing out with lyric intensity.” The Millions
“The young woman's existential novel for the new millennium. The book is smart, experimental, and just a little bit dangerous....It's a must-read for anyone who's ever wanted a 21st century update to the Bell Jar....Reading it will resonate.” Bustle
Republished and newly available in a P.S. edition: a bold, highly charged novel of restlessness, angst, and yearning, by a brilliant young writer to watch.
Look at me don't look at me look at me look at me don't look at me don't look.
Ruth is a young American in London, trying desperately to navigate a world in which she attracts the unwanted gaze of others while grappling with the uncertainty of her own self-regard. Haunted equally by self-doubt and by a morbid fascination with the beautiful, cruel, and empty people around her, Ruth darts quietly through the rainy sidewalks of her present trying to escape her future.
With the fierce emotional power of such classics as The Bell Jar, Bonjour Tristesse, and Chocolates for Breakfast, Green Girl is a provocative, sharply etched portrait of a young woman navigating the spectrum between anomie and epiphany.
About the Author
Kate Zambreno is the author of two novels, Green Girl and O Fallen Angel. She is also author of two works of innovative nonfiction, Heroines and Book of Mutter. She teaches in the writing programs at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University.