Review: Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

35297339*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: Asymmetry

Author: Lisa Halliday

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

ISBN: 9781501166761

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, “Folly,” tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. A tender and exquisite account of an unexpected romance that takes place in New York during the early years of the Iraq War, “Folly” also suggests an aspiring novelist’s coming-of-age. By contrast, “Madness” is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda.


One of the most commonly used words to describe this book on Goodreads is “clever.” I can attest that this book is indeed clever, as well as masterfully crafted, astute, observant, tender, and stimulating. It’s an intelligent book with characters who are so honestly created that the pages breathe with their life. It is a novel to make you think and to provide a different perspective on our ever-changing world. This book challenges it’s reader to accept situations that are atypical and perhaps outside of ones comfort zone: a relationship between a  young editor and a geriatric author, and inside a Customs office as an Iraqi-American man is detained by an immigration officer who questions his sincerity.  Halliday highlights inequalities that exist in our world–the judgements people impose, the lack of acceptance, the unfounded stereotypes. Her novel addresses ideas of faith, culture, wealth, memory, and age. Although the stories appear tenuously connected, Halliday ties her novellas together into one novel through these themes.

On a personal level, I did not connect with the characters in this story, however I found this story to be incredibly stimulating intellectually. The characters are thoughtful and witty. Each sentence of the story is purposeful. Halliday doesn’t waste words. Her writing is artful and intentional, leading the reader into a very reflective and contemplative work.

I had trouble rating this story on Goodreads. On the one hand, I was increasingly engaged with this story the more that I read. On the other, I did feel a sense of disconnect with the characters and started to fade as I got closer to the end of the story. In the end, I’ve decided that this book deserves 4 stars, although personally, I’d place it at 3.5. It’s a singularly unique and inventive story. It certainly requires some time and thought to read, but overall, it was thoroughly enjoyable to read.


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