Author(s): Ottessa Moshfegh
A lonely young woman working in a boys prison outside Bostonin the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense, by one of the brightestnew voices in fiction
"So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paid fifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes a prison for boys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to use his name for such a place feels appropriate. In a week, I would run away from home and never go back. This is the story of how I disappeared."
The Christmas season offers little cheer for EileenDunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed youngwoman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father s caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighborhood and a day job as a secretary at the boys prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors.
Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary dayswith perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nightsand weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buff prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father s messes. When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears at first to be a miraculously budding friendship.
In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings. Played out against the snowy landscape of coastal New England in the days leading up to Christmas, young Eileen's story is told from the gimlet-eyed perspective of the now much older narrator. Creepy, mesmerizing, and sublimely funny, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson and early Vladimir Nabokov, this powerful debut novel enthralls and shocks, and introduces one of the most original new voices in contemporary literature.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016
The great power of this book, which won the PEN/Hemingway debut fiction award last month, is that Eileen is never simply a literary gargoyle; she is painfully alive and human, and Ottessa Moshfegh writes her with a bravura wildness that allows flights of expressionistic fantasy to alternate with deadpan matter of factness As an evocation of physical and psychological squalor, Eileen is original, courageous and masterful. --The Guardian
If Jim Thompson had married Patricia Highsmith imagine that household they might have conspired together to dream up something like "Eileen." It s blacker than black and cold as an icicle. It s also brilliantly realised and horribly funny. --John Banville
[A] dark and unnerving debut. --Publishers Weekly
It is in that gritty, claustrophobic atmosphere that Ms. Moshfegh s talents are most apparent. This young writer already possesses a remarkably sighted view into the bleakest alleys of the psyche. --Wall Street Journal
Wonderfully unsettling first novel . . . When the denouement comes, it s as shocking as it is thrilling. Part of the pleasure of the book (besides the almost killing tension) is that Eileen is mordantly funny . . . this tale belongs to both the past and future Eileen, a truly original character who is gloriously unlikable, dirty, startling and as ferociously human as the novel that bears her name. --San Francisco Chronicle
Rife with dark emotions and twisted fantasies, Moshfegh's psychological thriller is the sinister account of the reclusive Eileen, whose prospects for escape from her abysmal life take a turn for the worse when a friendship with a coworker spirals into obsession." --Oprah.com
Eileen swaddles the reader in its dark and sinister mood. Moshfegh's brilliant storytelling builds an almost sadistic level of suspense, so that you can't help but lean in and listen to the narrator, however despicable and repulsive her confession becomes. --Sarah Hollenbeck, co-owner of Women Children First bookstore, Chicago
Eileen is a singular read, dark and funny and full of oft-queasy truths, ones that may at first seem strange and disturbing, but then are not so far away from our own internal thoughts. Eileen is quiet, awkward and lonely. Atmospheric, cinematic, and deliciously uncomfortably heartwarmingly pathetic in the best of ways. --Melinda Powers, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Tempting plot machinations aside, you should be reading Moshfegh because she writes incredible sentences, the kind that build and build to create a warped momentum you can t brake. They create a harsh, blackly humorous world, like Mary Gaitskill, but less grave and with more jokes. - "Gawker" Like The Woman Upstairs and Notes on a Scandal, Eileen turns on the symbiotic relationship between love and hate, hope and delusion, and for the reader repulsion and absolute absorption. --New York Magazine
The climax of Eileen is bizarre, creepy and oddly satisfying. This novel does not fit neatly into a single genre. Its protagonist is unlikable but fascinating, and ultimately sympathetic. It is a masterly psychological drama that lingers, with a disquieting effect, in the reader's mind. --Newsday
The attention that is now greeting Moshfegh s first novel is not undeserved. Eileen is a remarkable piece of writing, always dark and surprising, sometimes ugly and occasionally hilarious. Its first-person narrator is one of the strangest, most messed-up, most pathetic and yet, in her own inimitable way, endearing misfits I ve encountered in fiction. Trust me, you have never read anything remotely like Eileen. --Washington Post
Eileen is anything but generic. Eileen is as vivid and human as they come . . . Moshfegh writes beautiful sentences. One after the other they unwind playful, shocking, wise, morbid, witty, searingly sharp. The -beginning of this novel is so impressive, so controlled yet whimsical, fresh and thrilling, you feel she can do anything . . . There is that wonderful tension between wanting to slow down and bathe in the language and imagery, and the impulse to race to see what happens, how it happens. --The New York Times Book Review
Literary psychological suspense at its best. --Booklist (starred review)
A woman recalls her mysterious escape from home in this taut, controlled noir about broken families and their proximity to violence . The narrative masterfully taunts. The release, when it comes, registers a genuine shock. And Moshfegh has such a fine command of language and her character that you can miss just how inside out Eileen's life becomes in the course of the novel, the way the "loud, rabid inner circuitry of my mind" overtakes her. Is she inhumane or self-empowered? Deeply unreliable or justifiably jaded? Moshfegh keeps all options on the table . A shadowy and superbly told story of how inner turmoil morphs into outer chaos. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Ottessa Moshfeghis a fiction writer fromBoston. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize for herstories in "The Paris Review" and granted a creative writingfellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.She is currently a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford."