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My Year of Rest and Relaxation: A Novel Paperback – June 25, 2019

4.1 out of 5 stars 3,156 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"I don't think I'm ever going to get over Ottessa Moshfegh's My Year of Rest and Relaxation." —Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

“Ottessa Moshfegh is easily the most interesting contemporary American writer on the subject of being alive when being alive feels terrible. She has a freaky and pure way of accessing existential alienation, as if her mind were tapped directly into the sap of some gnarled, secret tree . . . Watching Moshfegh turn her withering attention to the gleaming absurdities of pre-9/11 New York City, an environment where everyone except the narrator seems beset with delusional optimism, horrifically carefree, feels like eating bright, slick candy—candy that might also poison you.” —Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker
“Darkly comic and ultimately profound new novel. . . Moshfegh’s extraordinary prose soars as it captures her character’s re-engagement.” —Vendela Vida, The New York Times Book Review
“Because this is a novel by the superabundantly talented Moshfegh—she’s an American writer of Croatian and Iranian descent—we know in advance that it will be cool, strange, aloof and disciplined. The sentences will be snipped as if the writer has an extra row of teeth . . . Moshfegh writes with so much misanthropic aplomb, however, that she is always a deep pleasure to read. She has a sleepless eye and dispenses observations as if from a toxic eyedropper . . . Though this novel is set nearly 20 years ago, it feels current. The thought of sleeping through this particular moment in the world’s history has appeal.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Just finished My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh: caustic, funny, dark addition to the lineage of unlikeable female protagonists (by Mona Awad, Sheila Heti, Anita Brookner, Jean Rhys, Emily Bronte . . . + grandmamas Lady MacBeth + Medea)" —Margaret Atwood via Twitter

“The bravado in Moshfegh’s comprehensive darkness makes her novels both very funny and weirdly exhilarating . . . As in Eileen, Moshfegh excels here at setting up an immediately intriguing character and situation, then amplifying the freakishness to the point that some rupture feels inevitable. Her confidence never flags; hers are the novels of a writer invigoratingly immune to uncertainty and self-doubt.” Slate
“One of the most compelling protagonists modern fiction has offered in years: a loopy, quietly furious pillhead whose Ambien ramblings and Xanaxed bitcheries somehow wend their way through sad and funny and strange toward something genuinely profound.” Entertainment Weekly, Best Books of 2018

“A strange, exhilarating triumph . . . Moshfegh writes with a singular wit and clarity that, on its own, would be more than enough. (Her 2015 debut, Eileen, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Rest has already been optioned for film by Australian actress Margot Robbie). But the cumulative power of her narrative—and the sharp turn she takes in its last 30 pages—becomes nothing less than a revelation: sad, funny, astonishing, and unforgettable.” Entertainment Weekly

“Moshfegh’s tale of self-care gone off the rails is a caustically funny skewering of artistic pretension and consumption, but also a meditation on grief, privilege and social cohesion.” —Huffington Post
“The most exciting book of 2018 is about a girl sleeping for a year . . . Ingenious, darkly comedic . . . The novel speeds to the best last page of any book I’ve likely ever read.” Vice

“This book isn’t just buzzy and maniacally entertaining—it’s a mean-spirited, tenderhearted masterpiece.” New York Post
My Year of Rest and Relaxation is the most poignant, vulnerable, mature, and—dare I say it?—sincere work that its gifted author has yet produced.” Boston Globe
“In flat, deadpan, unembellished prose recalling the cadences of Joan Didion and the clear-eyed candor of Mary Gaitskill, Moshfegh portrays the vacuous interior life (she has virtually no exterior life) of a narcissistic personality simultaneously self-loathing and self-displaying . . .  My Year of Rest and Relaxation is most convincing as an urbane dark comedy, sharp-eyed satire leavened by passages of morbid sobriety, as in a perverse fusion of Sex and the City and Requiem for a Dream.” —Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books 

“Bizarrely fascinating . . . Moshfegh knows how to spin perversity and provocation into fascination, and bleakness into surprising tenderness.” —NPR
“It’s another acerbic character study from an author making a career out of bringing absurdly unlikable people to life. No one can discomfit a reader quite like her.” —A.V. Club

“One of the pleasures of reading Ottessa Moshfegh is that—unusually, these days—she rarely writes in the present tense. Instead, the sense of immediacy, the sense of being inside a character, the sense of things happening and having psychic value, both to the writer and her reader, is provided by the structure and content of her sentences. . . . One of the other pleasures of reading Moshfegh is her relentless savagery. All this is delivered as comic—it is comic—but it’s not exactly funny, though of course we laugh.” Guardian

“Darkly hilarious . . . [Moshfegh’s] the kind of provocateur who makes you laugh out loud while drawing blood.” Vogue

“Electrifying. . . a reminder that there is something to life outside the economic exchange of time for money and money for goods, even if that unnamed thing is obscure and perplexing and just a bit monstrous—particularly as a woman. Literature may not have the all the answers, but it can show us the power and allure of saying no.” Vanity Fair

“I was cringing during every moment of Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and yet I could not put the book down . . . It is mostly, almost by juxtaposition, about the realness of a more subtle and very private expression of pain, no matter the cause, no matter how seemingly trivial. That’s what kept me reading even as my cringing muscles grew sore: feeling in my screwed-up face, barked laughs, and watery eyes the translation of that private kind of pain into something I could share.” —Claire Benoit, The Paris Review

“There’s a casually intimidating power to Moshfegh’s writing—the deadpan frankness and softly cutting sentences—that makes any comparison feel not quite right.” —Anne Diebel, London Review of Books

About the Author

Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from New England. Her first book, McGlue, a novella, won the Fence Modern Prize in Prose and the Believer Book Award. She is also the author of the short story collection Homesick for Another World. Her stories have been published in The Paris ReviewThe New Yorker, and Granta, and have earned her a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, the Plimpton Discovery Prize, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Eileen, her first novel, was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction; My Year of Rest and Relaxation, her second novel, was a New York Times bestseller.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 25, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525522131
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525522133
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.03 x 0.81 x 7.68 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 3,156 ratings

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Ottessa Moshfegh&nbsp;is a fiction writer from New England.&nbsp; Eileen, her first novel, was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction.&nbsp;My Year of Rest and Relaxation,&nbsp;her second novel, was a&nbsp;New York Times&nbsp;bestseller. She is also the author of the short story collection&nbsp;Homesick for Another World, and a novella,&nbsp;McGlue. She lives in southern California.

Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5
3,156 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Page-Turner
By H. Anderson on August 15, 2018
For years I've been longing for a novel that would compell me to read the way I did as a child--voraciously and without distraction. Given the fact that I can barely read anything these days without taking breaks to play Words With Friends, I had all but given up; then came "My Year of Rest and Relaxation." Because the novel and its author, Otessa Moshfegh, are this year's darlings, I hesitated; popular books usually disappoint me. But I read this one in two days, and would have in a single sitting if I'd had the chance. It is simply the best novel I've read by a living author, and one of the best I've read in my life. Moshgegh's unnamed narrator is 26, beautiful and model-like, a Columbia graduate with a degree in art history and a job in a Chelsea art gallery. She's also alone and completely empty inside. Her cold, distant parents died while she was in college; she has no siblings; her unofficial boyfriend is a horrible jerk; her only friend is an annoying bullemic who she mistreats at every opportunity. Caught sleeping on the job, the narrator decides to put her firing to good use by devising a year-long rest cure. Armed with a huge variety of psychotropic drugs, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications prescribed by a shady, criminally incompetent psychiatrist, she shuts herself in her Upper East Side apartment and, supported by her inheritance and unemployment benefits, starts sleeping full-time. Nevertheless, things keep happening, both to her and to the world, during her fateful year off. Moshfegh's writing is brilliant, but what sets her apart from even the best of her contemporaries is the consistent pace of the novel. There are no dead spots, no dull passages, and none of the unevenness that ruins so many contemporary novels. "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" is that rarest of things: a profound, literary page-turner. I can't wait to read it again, along with everything else Moshfegh has published, and can't recommend it highly enough.
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160 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on October 10, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2018
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Miss Fusspot
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really worth reading
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2018
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2.0 out of 5 stars Grimly Unrealistic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 13, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars A knockout!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 28, 2018
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Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Great writing that doesn’t amount to much/or at the very least, I didn’t get it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 10, 2019
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S Riaz
5.0 out of 5 stars My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 21, 2020
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