Citizen Review: The Unnamed

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with loyal M&Q customer Jess Horowitz, writing about Joshua Ferris’ second novel.

The Unnamed
Joshua Ferris, author of the popular office black comedy Then We Came to the End (2007), returns to the shelves with his second novel, The Unnamed. We meet Tim and Jane Farnsworth, a wealthy, successful couple who share a beautiful home and an inability to relate to their introverted teenage daughter. Tim has just begun a third bout with an inexplicable illness. As we learn about Tim’s illness, family relationships are tested, flaws are illuminated, and countless doctors shrug their shoulders as to what is causing Tim’s problem.

Throughout the novel, Tim and Jane are repeatedly separated and reunited, having to reestablish their sense of home and continuity. While reading, I was frustrated, relieved, and again frustrated by their actions, which I imagine was Ferris’ intention. As in his first novel, he excels at creating characters that we can’t help but follow down the path to insanity.

Many novels and films take on a strained marriage, but Ferris’ story is original and unusual. Much of the book takes place in winter, so it’s highly recommended to read it in these cold months, to make the book’s feeling of cold all the more vivid.

Jess Horwitz lives in Uptown and likes her books arranged by color.

The Unnamed will be published on January 18, 2010.