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Rest for the wicked

A brash US talent delights in breaking taboos of all kinds, finds Josie Mitchell
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (Jonathan Cape, £12.99)
”I’ll show you how easy this is”: Ottessa Moshfegh

Ottessa Moshfegh is drawn to characters unwilling or unable to keep to the rules. They refuse to wash themselves or brush their teeth; they binge on sex or substances; and they conceal their dirty habits from those around them.

In her first book, the novella McGlue, a brain-damaged, alcoholic sailor rolls around in the depths of an unknown ship, circling the possibility that he has killed his friend and lover. Her 2017 story collection, Homesick for Another World, teems with “wild teens, limping men, young mothers, kids scattered on the hot concrete like the town’s lazy rats and pigeons.” These are people, in Moshfegh’s words, “carrying the burden of their own wrecked consciousness”—who, placed in brutal scenarios, tend to behave in brutal ways, with selfishness, narcissism or obsequiousness.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect's September issue: Twenty-five years after the Oslo Accords, Israeli politician and former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and journalist Donald Macintyre explore how the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict has diminished, with Burg arguing that a one-state solution is the only way forward. Jane Martinson visited the offices of the UK’s biggest-selling newspaper—Metro—to find out how it has risen to the top. Adam Tooze charts the ups and downs of the euro and argues that decisions made by the ECB have hampered the currency during its first 20 years in existence. Elsewhere in the issue: Michael Blastland suggests that early diagnosis isn’t all it’s made out to be and that many people have endured unnecessary suffering in an attempt to live longer. Wendy Ide examines the life and work of director David Lynch as she reviews his new memoir, which offers a glimpse behind the curtain.