I didn’t know what to expect going into Asymmetry. I knew a lot of people I followed on Twitter loooooved the book, it was one of the New York Times top 10 books of 2018, and on top of that, it was the selection for my book club. So I knew it had good endorsements. I didn’t know anything else outside that – and honestly, that was the best way to read it.
For those of you who want brief plot strokes: the book is split into two sections, seemingly disconnected, with a coda at the end. The first is the story of Alice, who begins a relationship with the much-older Ezra Blazer, a famous writer in early 2000s NYC. (Lisa Halliday, the author of Asymmetry, dated Philip Roth when she was in her 20s, and the character of Ezra is very much based on Roth.) The second is the story of an Iraqi-American man named Ammar who is detained in Heathrow. And the third, a coda, is the transcript of a radio interview with Ezra Blazer. As one review writes, “The challenge to the reader—helped along by a subtle, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it clue in the novel’s brief coda—is to figure out how, and still more why, these two tales belong together, despite their very obvious ‘asymmetry.’”
The story is so well-crafted!!! I was frustrated that I didn’t understand how the first two parts fit together — I had to google the connection, so don’t worry if you don’t make it — but I understand why Halliday didn’t make the connection explicit.
Overall, definitely worth your time.