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Rachel Cusk, Outline

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We were honoured to welcome Rachel Cusk to the bookshop for a very successful author talk in February. She discussed her novel Outline, which has been received rapturously by critics, and nominated for the Folio Prize and the Baileys Prize.

Rachel began by reading a passage from the novel, which introduced us to the enigmatic narrator, a female author who teaches creative writing. Rachel explained that the invisibility of the narrator ‘wrote itself’ when she began to consider the peculiar position of women who no longer have prescribed ‘ways of being’ in society, as a mother or a wife or as a young person for example. She wanted to explore the role of writing and storytelling in our representation of ourselves to others, especially in an age where the acts of writing and storytelling are become ever more prolific and democratised.

Rachel also spoke frankly about how the ‘violently critical’ reception of her memoirs has affected her writing, and how the recent blurring of boundaries of biography and fiction by writers such as Karl Ove Knausgaard inspired her to continue to experiment with form and explore ideas of selfhood and personal experience.

If you were unable to attend the event, you can listen to Rachel’s fascinating talk in full here.

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