A woman on a plane listens to the stranger in the seat next to her telling her the story of his life: his work, his marriage, and the harrowing night he has just spent burying the family dog. That woman is Faye, who is now on her way to Europe to promote the book she has just published. Once she reaches her destination,  the conversations she has with the people she meets –  about art, about family, about politics, about love, about sorrow and joy, about justice and injustice – are the most far-reaching questions human beings ask. These conversations, the last of them with her son,  rise dramatically and majestically to a beautiful conclusion.  Kudos completes Rachel Cusk’s trilogy with overwhelming power.  The trilogy is one of the great achievements in fiction.  

About the author

Rachel Cusk is the author of nine novels and three works of non-fiction, which have won and been shortlisted for numerous prizes. In 2015, Cusk’s version of Medea was staged at the Almeida Theatre.  

The judges on the shortlist

Deborah Levy on Kudos

It is rare for a novel to achieve a perfect synthesis of form and content. Rachel Cusk makes this great literary achievement appear to be easy in Kudos, or in a sense unnegotiable - it is after all an inherent part of the writer’s job.

If there is an authorial impatience with the over familiar tropes of novelistic plot and drama at work on every page of Kudos, there is in fact a great deal of plot and drama present in the narration of the lives of the men and women who disclose their own frailties to the dislocated, effaced, female narrator.  Kudos is a novel that both elicits and honours the narration of others in their reach to move closer to a truth that might be unacceptable, or at best, inspiring.

The main narrator in Kudos is working hard for her readers, yet never presents herself as less vulnerable than her co-narrators. This kind of narrator is new to literature.

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