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A Good Morning America Buzz Pick, and A Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by BuzzFeed, The Millions, Goodreads, Bustle, BookRiot, and The Nerd Daily
A wry and bold debut novel, which is at once an irresistible catastrophe waiting to happen and an unflinching exploration of how we narrate the stories of our lives, as an aspiring novelist finds herself stalking—and writing about—her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
Twenty-four-year-old New York bookseller Naomi Ackerman is desperate to write a novel, but struggles to find a story to tell. When, after countless disastrous dates, she meets Caleb—a perfectly nice guy with a Welsh accent and a unique patience for all her quirks—she thinks she's finally stumbled onto a time-honored subject: love. Then Caleb's ex-girlfriend, Rosemary, enters the scene.
Upon learning that Rosemary is not safely tucked away in Caleb’s homeland overseas, but in fact lives in New York and also works in the literary world, Naomi is threatened and intrigued in equal measure. If they both fell for the same man, what else might they have in common? The more Naomi learns about Rosemary, the more her curiosity consumes her. Before she knows it, her casual Instagram stalking morphs into a friendship under false pretenses—and becomes the subject of her nascent novel.
As her lies and half-truths spiral out of control, and fact and fiction become increasingly difficult to untangle, Naomi must decide what—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice to write the perfect ending.
About the Author
Caitlin Barasch earned her BA from Colorado College and her MFA from New York University. Her work has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Catapult, Day One, The Forge, and Hobart. A former bookseller, Caitlin currently teaches creative writing at the Writers Circle. She was born and raised in New York and now lives in Brooklyn. A Novel Obsession is her debut novel.
"Barasch has a talent for balancing discomfort and empathy, pushing the reader away and pulling them right back.... The characters are emotionally engaging, beckoning you to rubberneck the inevitable train wreck."
"A Novel Obsession easily holds a place as 'best book of the year' in my heart so far. It takes a sharp, thoughtful look at the depths of curiosity, obsession, and self-sabotage, and is bound to intrigue you from the very first chapter."
—Farrah Penn, BuzzFeed
"[A] withering debut."
—Harper's Bazaar, "The Best Beach Reads of 2022"
“Caitlin Barasch’s writing overflows with humor, compassion, intrigue, and the chaos of identity. It overflows with life itself.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, New York Times bestselling author of Here I Am
“This book is a ride. An unruly study of fixation, performance, and the exquisite agony of anonymity.”
—Raven Leilani, New York Times bestselling author of Luster
"At once a compassionate portrait of someone so desperate for intimacy that she can’t help but sabotage it and an incisive study of female friendship at its most toxic and proprietary, this dread-laden psychological thriller is smart, jarring, and funny.... Propulsive storytelling and an irresistible narrator from a sharp new writer."
—Kirkus, starred review
“Barasch peels back the layers of [her character's] obsessive behavior and apparent emotional detachment to reveal a deeply damaged but utterly compelling young woman.... Barasch's suspenseful puzzle-box tale should appeal to readers of the You series by Caroline Kepnes.”
—Booklist, starred review
"Naomi as a narrator is both entertaining and anxiety-inducing, as you know her actions won’t culminate into a good ending. But you’ll stay to see it through, in any case. This thriller can be both funny and smart and showcases such an unhealthy example of female friendship."
"[A] stunning debut…. A Novel Obsession is a story about people—at their best and worst. Plot aside, Barasch reminds us of a simple truth: everybody has a story.”
—Rachel Schwartzmann, BOMB Magazine
“Propulsive, unsettling and searingly funny, Barasch offers an unflinching (and often devastating) look at self-worth, loneliness and an entire generation’s preoccupation with performance and control. A Novel Obsession is the most entertaining book I’ve read all summer.”
—Ella Berman, author of Read with Jenna book club pick The Comeback
"Somehow simultaneously a high octane page-turner and a heartbreaking character study of a young woman so afraid of being alone, unloved, and uninteresting, that she can't help but leave behind claw marks on everything she grabs hold of. Barasch's genre-bending debut is inventive and electric, signaling the arrival of a bold new voice in fiction."
—Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl
“An utterly captivating meditation on femininity, identity, desire, and art, A Novel Obsession is a ride and a revelation. I read it with my heart in my throat.”
—Lauryn Chamberlain, author of Friends From Home
"A solid debut novel from Caitlin Barasch, in which she flips the script and has the actual girlfriend as the stalker . . . refreshing and different."
—Red Carpet Crash