Erica Wagner on Transit
On the surface, Transit seems to be a conventional novel about a woman reordering her life in the aftermath of separation from her husband. But beneath the surface of Cusk's clear, cool language runs a deep, strange current of fracture and risk. Evil, says the novel's narrator, may not be active, but simply ‘the relinquishing of effort’—an idea which Transit's recessive sheen makes powerfully manifest.
Rachel Cusk, Transit
In the wake of family collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions – personal, moral, artistic, practical – as she endeavours to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city she is made to confront aspects of living she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life.
Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility and the mystery of change.
In this precise, short and yet epic cycle of novels, Cusk manages to describe the most elemental experiences, the liminal qualities of life, through a narrative near-silence that draws language towards it. She captures with unsettling restraint and honesty the longing to both inhabit and flee one's life and the wrenching ambivalence animating our desire to feel real.
About the author
Rachel Cusk was born in Canada in 1967 and moved to the United Kingdom in 1974. She is the author of nine novels and three works of non-fiction. She has won and been shortlisted for numerous prizes: her most recent novel, Outline (2014), was shortlisted for the Folio Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Prize, the Giller Prize and the Canadian Governor General's Award. It was also picked by the New York Times as one of the top ten books of the year. In 2003, Rachel Cusk was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'. In 2015 her version of Euripides’ ‘Medea’ was put on at the Almeida Theatre with Rupert Goold directing and was shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.