Love and loss in the information age.
The internet has collapsed the boundaries of time, space, and desire. However far apart lovers are, they can instantly be present. So can they ever really break up?
This is the question Walsh's narrator must reckon with as she travels across Europe after the end of a love affair conducted largely online. This pilgrimage through 'offline' space dictated by chance - on railways, on buses, on planes and, above all, on foot - wrestles with the dangers of converting longing into language, and reclaims and reshapes the territory of the male travel writer by creating personal and innovative maps of cities by which Walsh navigates the complexities of modern love.
This is a work about borders - between places, people, genres - and how we might cross them. Challenging the divisions between intellect and intimacy, Walsh blends the personal and the critical to tell a mystery story about her own reality. But Break.up also challenges the borders between fiction and non-fiction, ranging widely into eclectic essays on music, boredom, shame, photography, marriage, art.
From Rome to Budapest, Freud to Foucault, algorithms to nostalgia, this is a stimulating, original work which dismantles what we know of love, and how we make art from it, and finds a new form and language for the way we love now.
About the Author
Joanna Walsh's work has appeared in Granta, Narrative, The Stinging Fly and Guernica, amongst others. Her first collection, Fractals, was published by 3:AM Press 2013, and her non-fiction work Hotel was published internationally by Bloomsbury in 2015. This was followed by Vertigo, published by And Other Stories in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Her digitally groundbreaking novella Seed, widely praised for its innovation was released in 2017, and her latest collection of stories Words from the World's End is out now. She was awarded the 2017 Arts Foundation Fellowship in Literature for the manuscript of Break.Up.
Melding travel writing with philosophy and emotion, Walsh is a true original * Stylist *
Praise for Break.Up: A novel about love in digital spaces that takes the time to breathe, exhaling into the muggy air of real places. A bereft protagonist is consoled by the energy of philosophical fragments and messy objects. Walsh has surgical expertise in the dissection of online excitements and misdirections but puts us in the sensual world of Dior lipsticks and perfecto jackets. The result is bracing. It's a new real where our emotions are always betwixt and between our devices and what feels like the ache in our heart. -- Sherry Turkle, author of Evocative Objects, Alone Together, and Reclaiming Conversation
Praise for Joanna Walsh:
Walsh is a sublimely elegant writer... artful and intelligent * New Statesman *
Joanna Walsh is fast becoming one of our most important writers -- Deborah Levy
Walsh's writing has intellectual rigour and bags of formal bravery... boldly intellectual work. * Financial Times *
Praise for Vertigo: Her work trades on the literary genres of the miniature-short stories, essays, even postcards-reminiscent of Marcel Schwob, Clarice Lispector, Roland Barthes, and Lydia Davis * Paris Review *
Original and breathtaking -- Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick
Packs a wallop -- Jeff Vandermeer
Walsh's closest literary ally is probably Lydia Davis, with whom she shares a brevity and starkness of expression. . . Walsh's refreshing humour - sometimes biting; sometimes absurd - lends her work a poignancy that is genuinely affecting * Times Literary Supplement *
Beautifully simple and unembellished, Walsh's writing - most captivating in its ability to unnerve - is cleverly revealing -- Claire Hazelton * Guardian *
Deliciously sharp ... With wry humour and profound sensitivity, Walsh takes what is mundane and transforms it into something otherworldly with sentences that can make your heart stop. A feat of language * Kirkus Reviews (Starred) *
Walsh is an inventive, honest writer. In her world, objects may be closer and far more intricate than they appear; these stories offer a compelling pitch into the inner life. * Publishers Weekly *
Moments of blazing perspicacity, creativity, intelligence, and dark humour are insanely abundant in [Walsh's] writing -- Natalie Helberg * Numero Cinq *
It's a smart, intriguing book * Daily Mail *
A novel about love in digital spaces that takes the time to breathe, exhaling into the muggy air of real places. A bereft protagonist is consoled by the energy of philosophical fragments and messy objects. Walsh has surgical expertise in the dissection of online excitements and misdirections but puts us in the sensual world of Dior lipsticks and Perfecto jackets. The result is bracing. It's a new real where our emotions are always betwixt and between our devices and what feels like the ache in our heart. -- Sherry Turkle, author of Evocative Objects
Break.up is steeped in the pure poetics of now. It is a smart, allusive meditation... on the sheer fragility of experience and feeling. -- Colm Toibin, author of House of Names
This luminous philosophical novel casts dye into the spaces between things, the gaps between certainties, colors them visible, valuable. Sometimes these take the form and hue of a train journey, or time spent in a city, or the pause between two emails. Sometimes you could call them love. -- Lauren Elkin, author of Flaneuse
Break.up goes further still than Walsh's previous work in challenging genre boundaries -- Sarah Ditum * The Guardian *
Richly observant writing... has the making of poetry -- Becca Rothfeld * TLS *