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Publisher's Summary

FINALIST FOR THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

"Nunez’s prose itself comforts us. Her confident and direct style uplifts - the music in her sentences, her deep and varied intelligence." (The New York Times Book Review)

"A penetrating, moving meditation on loss, comfort, memory...Nunez has a wry, withering wit." (NPR)

"[A] sneaky gut punch of a novel...a consummate example of the human-animal tale." (Harper's Magazine)

A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion. 

©2017 Sigrid Nunez (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Could not stop listening

I loved the narrator. She was candid and insightful. The story is full of her musing on writers and their writing. It's a quick listen -- just a few dog walks and I was done.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Dreadful and misleading...

When a book wins a National Book Award, I expect something pretty spectacular. Wow was I disappointed...this author couldn't decide whether she was writing a grief novel, a documentary on writers/writing, or a canine/buddy story. The bits with the dog actually take up only about a third of the book, so if you're hoping for more, look elsewhere. I won't read another of her books.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Haunting!

A totally remarkable and beautiful novel. The author's voice is lyrical and poignant. A must read!

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • GlossopUnited Kingdom
  • 09-22-18

Dreadful...

One of the most boring books its ever been my misfortune to listen to. Despite what the summary says, there is actually very little about the dog in here, just a boring diatribe about a past friendship. Also, far too many sexual references - nothing explicit but too many references to ****ing....
Avoid...

15 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

written fir writers?

struggled through half...narration made it more difficult...was expecting story of relationship with woman and pet and sounded like a college literature class

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

thought provoking story

it has a slow start fictional story with grounded in reality plot about depression and suicide oh and a great Dane which I am an owner of.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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About WRITING not so much a dog

When she wrote about people or the dog - great and loved it. I’m not a writer so got bored when she’d go on and on like a graduate level academic class on writing

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

dogs, suicides, ideas, and The NBA

This year’s National Book Award winner is fiction that reads like memoir. I suspect at least some of this novel is based on the author’s life, though I know nothing about Sigrid Nunez and have no grounds for saying this. The Friend is about love and loss, but more specifically it’s about suicide and writers and dogs. I like this author’s writing style, and I like the narrator of this audiobook. It’s a book of ideas, not a novel in the traditional sense. There’s so many literary prizes these days, and I don’t know the criteria for each. I won’t say The Friend isn’t deserving of The NBA, but I will say I’ve listened to better audiobooks that were released this year. Overall rating: 3.89

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    4 out of 5 stars

Grief, Suicide and Writing

This book was not what I expected. I thought it was going to be ....... I'm not sure what exactly. Less profound perhaps. It's a novel about life, aging, friendship, love, loyalty, questioning our assumptions and beliefs. It's the first book I've read by Sigrid Nunez. It won't be the last.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Duped

I picked this book based on the description, and the cover with the Great Dane, assuming it was going to be primarily about the relationship developing with the dog despite/because of the narrator’s mourning. Instead, it seems to be an incessant, wandering monologue about the narcissism and self-importance of writers. The author name drops and quotes other authors ad nauseam as she drones on and on about the writing profession. It was exhausting. The scattered mentions of the dog were the only bright points. But they were brief and infrequent enough to not hold up the narrative. even more about the pain of mourning would have sustained my interest. But no, just a writer talking about writing and authors. I am surprised it was nominated for awards. Maybe it was by writers who connected with the true subject here? Or maybe I just missed something.