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The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

While she usually writes fiction, Samantha Harvey’s latest work subverts genre. After a series of emotional trauma in quick succession leads her to insomnia, Harvey struggles to continue on with business as usual. The book is a memoir at its core, but it’s composed of stream-of-consciousness thoughts, letters, conversations, and late-night revelations. Much like the mind of a sleep-deprived person, the narrative is somewhat disjointed and doesn’t always make perfect sense. Harvey provides an intriguing examination of the fragility of the mind and an acknowledgement that most of us truly have very little control over our own consciousness.

— Jade


This genre-defying debut memoir by Betty Trask Prize winner, Samantha Harvey, weaves a tapestry of confessional anguish, flash fiction, cathartic poetry, and feverish observations on politics and psychology in a transcendent search for reality and truth.

In 2016, Samantha Harvey began to lose sleep. She tried everything to appease her wakefulness: from medication to therapy, changes in her diet to changes in her living arrangements. Nothing seemed to help.

The Shapeless Unease is Harvey's darkly funny and deeply intelligent anatomy of her insomnia, an immersive interior monologue of a year without one of the most basic human needs. Original and profound, and narrated with a lucid breathlessness, this is a startlingly insightful exploration of memory, writing and influence, death and the will to survive, from "this generation's Virginia Woolf" (Telegraph).

About the Author

Samantha Harvey is the author of The Wilderness, All Is Song, Dear Thief, and The Western Wind. Her work has been longlisted for the Bailey's Prize and the Man Booker, and finalist for the James Tait Black Award, the Orange Prize, the Guardian First Book Award and the Walter Scott Prize. The Wilderness won the Betty Trask Award in 2009. She teaches Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802148834
ISBN-10: 0802148832
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: May 18th, 2021
Pages: 192
Language: English
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Created At: 7/19/2020 06:58am
Last Updated At: 9/15/2021 06:33am