Grappling with motherhood, economic anxiety, rage, and the limits of language, Want is a fiercely personal novel that vibrates with anger, insight, and love.
Elizabeth is tired. Years after coming to New York to try to build a life, she has found herself with two kids, a husband, two jobs, a PhD—and now they’re filing for bankruptcy. As she tries to balance her dream and the impossibility of striving toward it while her work and home lives feel poised to fall apart, she wakes at ungodly hours to run miles by the icy river, struggling to quiet her thoughts.
When she reaches out to Sasha, her long-lost childhood friend, it feels almost harmless—one of those innocuous ruptures that exist online, in texts. But her timing is uncanny. Sasha is facing a crisis, too, and perhaps after years apart, their shared moments of crux can bring them back into each other’s lives.
In Want, Lynn Steger Strong explores the subtle violences enacted on a certain type of woman when she dares to want things—and all the various violences in which she implicates herself as she tries to survive.
About the Author
Lynn Steger Strong’s first novel, Hold Still, was published in 2016. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Guernica, LARB, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at Catapult and Columbia University.
"Lynn Steger Strong’s Want is a reader’s novel, which is to say that it is rife with mentions of other novelists (Jean Rhys, Iris Murdoch, Doris Lessing, Anita Brookner) and both indebted to and an homage to their work." —Vulture, "32 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020"
"Furious, aching and razor sharp, Want is a beautiful book."
—Emma Cline, NYT bestselling author of The Girls
"A deeply intelligent and sneakily moving novel about having the ground fall away beneath your feet. Strong ingeniously undercuts conventional wisdom about what it means to be a success in this world."
—Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation
"Teacher, mother, best friend, wife and more. Is there any time or space left for Elizabeth outside of these roles? Lynn Steger Strong illustrates the heroic act of one woman trying her best to keep it all together; succeeding and failing and trying again. Want is honest and funny and profoundly moving. I tore through this book in two days and when it was over I wanted to start it again.”
—Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling
"Lynn Steger Strong’s Want is a fierce, funny, and consistently surprising exploration of friendship, bankruptcy, motherhood, and that slippery thing we call privilege. The voice is electric and nuanced; it feels possessed by a rare, inexplicable urgency. It’s less that this novel peels away the surfaces of daily life—school pick-up, subway commutes, vomiting toddlers—to expose the deeper truths dwelling underneath, and more that it exposes the ways those deep truths already saturate every crevice of our day-to-day lives. Once I started reading this book, I kept reading it compulsively—in a kind of fever—and since finishing, I’ve found myself returning frequently to its insights, grateful for their fervor, their complexity, and their grace."
—Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, The Recovering, and The Gin Closet
“It’s not just the story of what it is to be a mother and wife, a daughter and friend, a citizen and employee—Want is a novel about what it is to be alive right now, one that truly captures the urgency of human thought and feeling.”
—Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty and That Kind of Mother
"I felt a giddy sort of love for Lynn Steger Strong’s new novel Want. It’s not like anything else: caustic and despairing and sometimes, unexpectedly, laugh out loud funny. Sentence after sentence, this book took my breath away."
—Marcy Dermansky, author of Very Nice and Bad Marie