I was late to the party with Leichter’s debut, Temporary, but now I’m devastatingly early to the party with Terrace Story, a book I am obsessed with and want to discuss with everyone, ASAP. It’s the story of a couple living in a small apartment with their baby and their sort-of friend who somehow opens a portal to a terrace outside their apartment whenever she visits — and only when she visits. The magic in this story is incidental to the heartache and the ways that the small choices people make glance off of each other in devastating, unexpected ways. I had no idea where this book was taking me, and I am so glad for that. Consistently surprising, filled with wonderful and aching emotional depth, and with an ending that is truly an all-timer: I know this book is going to be one of my favorites from 2023. Recommended By Kelsey F., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the acclaimed novel Temporary, an intimate exploration of time, a fable about love, an epic daydream for a broken-hearted world
Annie, Edward, and their young daughter, Rose, live in a cramped apartment. One night, without warning, they find a beautiful terrace hidden in their closet. It wasn't there before, and it seems to only appear when their friend Stephanie visits. A city dweller's dream come true! But every extra bit of space has a hidden cost, and the terrace sets off a seismic chain of events, forever changing the shape of their tiny home, and the shape of the world.
Terrace Story follows the characters who suffer these repercussions and reverberations: the little family of three, their future now deeply uncertain, and those who orbit their fragile universe. The distance and love between these characters expands limitlessly, across generations. How far can the mind travel when it's looking for something that is gone? Where do we put our loneliness, longing, and desire? What do we do with the emotions that seem to stretch beyond the body, beyond the boundaries of life and death?
Based on the National Magazine Award-winning story, Hilary Leichter's profound second novel asks how we nurture love when death looms over every moment. From one of our most innovative and daring writers, Terrace Story is an astounding meditation on loss, a reverie about extinction, and a map for where to go next.
"Prepare to be astonished. Like the magical terrace of its title, Hilary Leichter's spectacular second novel contains the whole world. Told with boundless imagination, wisdom, and effortlessly gorgeous prose, Terrace Story will transform your understanding of time, space, memory, love, longing, and family and make you see your life anew. This book is a wonder." Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers
"Hilary Leichter, one of our most original novelists, amazes us again with a beautifully unclassifiable novel. Step out onto the terrace, where space and time, cause and effect, and fiction and reality have been redefined and gorgeously subverted. Terrace Story isn't a novel you merely read; it's a book you inhabit." Hernan Diaz, author of Trust
"Truly brilliant and profound. There's magic between these covers. Leichter is the master of creating a mood and a world that is both breezy and earth-shattering. I felt changed by this book. Every page is revelatory and left me happily breathless, and the story broke my heart in the best way. I thank the literary heavens for Terrace Story." Diane Cook, Booker shortlisted author of The New Wilderness
About the Author
Hilary Leichter is the author of Temporary, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, and was long-listed for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, the New Yorker, the New York Times, n+1, and Conjunctions. Leichter was the Summer 2022 Picador Guest Professor for Literature at Leipzig University, and is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.