Heralding the arrival of "a huge literary talent" (Karl Ove Knausgaard), Megan Nolan's riveting debut is "a blistering anti-romance" (Catherine Lacey) about love addiction and what it does to us.
Wouldn't I do anything to reverse...Read More
Wouldn't I do anything to reverse my loss, the absence of him?
In the first scene of this provocative gut-punch of a novel, our unnamed narrator meets a magnetic writer named Ciaran and falls, against her better judgment, completely in his power. After a brief, all-consuming romance he abruptly rejects her, sending her into a tailspin of jealous obsession and longing. If he ever comes back to her, she resolves to hang onto him and his love at all costs, even if it destroys her...
Part breathless confession, part lucid critique, Acts of Desperation renders a consciousness split between rebellion and submission, between escaping degradation and eroticizing it, between loving and being lovable. With unsettling, electric precision, Nolan dissects one of life's most elusive mysteries: Why do we want what we want, and how do we want it?
Heralding the arrival of a stunning new literary talent, Acts of Desperation interrogates the nature of fantasy, desire, and power, challenging us to reckon honestly with our own insatiability.
Megan Nolan lives in London and was born in 1990 in Waterford, Ireland. She has a robust and devoted following for her writing which includes essays, fiction and reviews published widely including in the New York Times, the White Review, the Sunday Times, the Village Voice, the Guardian, and in the literary anthology, Winter Papers. Regular columns of her cultural commentary appear in i newspaper, Huck Magazine and the New Statesman. Acts of Desperation is her first novel.
"Nolan's raw and uncannily insightful writing glimmers in a way that will shed new light onto wounds both healed and open -- and possibly save some other nameless woman the suffering. She tells the truth about obsession and drains it of all allure." - New York Times Book Review
"Wrenching...a chronicle of a sinister, deeply imbalanced and unsettlingly familiar romantic relationship...Nolan's writing gleams with dark precision. Her narrator's piercing, almost perverse self-awareness makes the action both more sad and more urgent...The decision to hold in suspicion the very form she is enacting is what makes the book refreshing and complex. What Acts of Desperation illuminates best is the chasm, sadly still enormous, between feminist politics and personal predicaments of love, sex and romance. The novel is a powerful counterweight to the notion that young women today are free to define themselves apart from men...It is satisfying to see a young female narrator wrest control of the story of her debasement, to show both its specificity and its utter sameness, her victimhood and her complicity." - LA Times
"Nolan makes this novel of the thin line between romantic obsession and abuse so readable and relatable you'll tear through it as if it's a beach read." - Glamour
"Megan Nolan's absorbing debut novel traces...the messy motivations that twist infatuation into obsession -- rendering a sharp psychological portrait of a narrator thoroughly transformed by desire." - NYMagazine/ Vulture
"Please believe the hype...I was transfixed with admiration and visceral horror...Nolan's headlong, fearless prose feels like salt wind on cracked lips. You wince and you thrill." - The Sunday Times
"Ruthlessly peels back the ego to expose the soul's most discomfiting corners... Acts of Desperation? submerges you in her interior life with?Knausgaardian?intensity...Her rejection of cliché and a savage honesty bordering on masochism recall writers such as Elena Ferrante and Jenny Diski...Nolan's portrait of a relationship warped by obsession and low self-worth excavates our private hearts." - The Evening Standard
"Nolan, a young Irish writer known for her unsparing essays on subjects such as abortion, joins the likes of Sally Rooney and Raven Leilani with this tempestuous, Dublin-set debut about a hard-drinking millennial whose hunger for validation leads her into a torrid relationship with a jealous writer... Impossible not to devour, it's an unsettling book that leaves you chewing queasily on its knotty, gristly core, despite the narrative's redemptive framing as an act of purgative retrospection." - The Daily Mail
"Frightening and feverish, compulsive and distressing, and as true-seeming a document of toxic and manipulative love as any published within memory... Acts of Desperation is, in other words, that squirmy argument between the sexes from Midsommar spread over 250 elegantly written pages-- a psychosexual thriller about the ecstasy and embarrassment of being a woman who has sex with, and who falls in love with, men... Bodily and alive-- hot as viscera, inward-looking, dark and soft...in other ways, its subject could not be more staggering in its scope, its savage, internecine central relationship serving as a bleak reminder of the ways in which the sexes have been socialized to be at odds, even in romance." - The New Republic
"A bracing and poignant story of a young woman's awakening; the writing is lucid and devastatingly accurate...With her narrator's whipsmart tone, low self-esteem issues and penchant for sexual debasement, Nolan will likely be compared to contemporary writers such as Sally Rooney, Kristen Roupenian and Ottessa Moshfegh. While these comparisons certainly hold, in Acts of Desperation there is a sweeter sense of openness to the world, despite its many problems. The wry social commentary is there, but it's from the perspective of a character who hasn't yet withdrawn from the world she critiques." - The Irish Times