The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez
We kick off our first ever Dabblers' Book Club episode with ‘The Last of Her Kind’ by Sigrid Nunez.
First published in 2006 in the USA, the book has only just this year been released in the UK by Virago. Expect university nostalgia, head-scratching over the central characters, Rolling Stones trivia, nods to F. Scott Fitzgerald, and general awe at Nunez’s literary skill.
It is Columbia University, 1968. Ann Drayton and Georgette George meet as roommates on the first night. Ann is rich and radical; Georgette is leery and introverted, a child of the very poverty and strife her new friend finds so noble. The two are drawn together by their differences; two years later, after a violent fight, they part ways. When, in 1976, Ann is convicted of killing a New York cop, Georgette comes back to their shared history in search of an explanation. She finds a riddle of a life, shaped by influences more sinister and complex than any of the writ-large sixties movements. She realises, too, how much their early encounter has determined her own path and why, after all this time, as she tells us, ‘I have never stopped thinking about her’.
Read the book, listen to the podcast, and tell us what you think.
Notes from Hajar: I mention on the pod that in one of Nunez’s books, The Friend, some of the passing characters are based on fictionalised versions of a real-life academic. It’s worth stating that this is obviously just an assumption based on striking similarities, but absolutely not a verified fact, and I’m sure that conjuring up fictional takes on pervy and arrogant academics isn’t too much of a stretch.
(Although of course, part of me hopes I've cracked it, and that they are in fact based on that awful real person, and that said awful real person reads the book).