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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Sally Rooney, Rachel Cusk, Lydia Davis, and Jenny Offill - a compact tour de force about sex, violence, and self-loathing from a ferociously talented new voice in fiction

Miranda Popkey's first novel is about desire, disgust, motherhood, loneliness, art, pain, feminism, anger, envy, guilt - written in language that sizzles with intelligence and eroticism. The novel is composed almost exclusively of conversations between women - the stories they tell each other, and the stories they tell themselves, about shame and love, infidelity and self-sabotage - and careens through 20 years in the life of an unnamed narrator hungry for experience and bent on upending her life. Edgy, wry, shot through with rage and despair, Topics of Conversation introduces an audacious and immensely gifted new novelist.

©2020 Miranda Popkey (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Sally Rooney-esque...Popkey's sentences careen breathlessly as her halting, staccato prose mirrors the 'churning' within the narrator's mind.... Her manner of parceling out information evoke at times the fragmentary and diaristic sensibilities of Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation...a shrewd record of the act of unflinchingly circling these amorphous notions of pain, desire and control." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Slim but potent...has the flavor of Rachel Cusk...provocative...sure to spark conversation." (NPR)

"As she explores her own history through a shifting lens of female rivalries and friendships, the book's surface coolness begins to peel away, revealing the raw, uncommon nerve of a radically honest storyteller." (Entertainment Weekly)

Editor's Pick

A strong debut to start off the decade
"The great thing about a strong work of fiction is that it can, if done right, bring you into lives and worlds so different from your own. For me, that happens with such infrequency that I forget it’s even a possibility until it happens again. Well, it happened again. Miranda Popkey’s debut novel is a beautifully well-crafted story that gives an honest and difficult illustration of a woman coming of age, all while being told through her conversations with different women over 20 years—which is pulled-off brilliantly by Rebecca Lowman as narrator. I think this novel is going to be a big deal and I can’t think of a better way to start off the new decade than with some truly great storytelling."—Aaron S., Audible Editor

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What listeners say about Topics of Conversation

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this book is garbage....

so this book came highly recommended by 3 trusted book reviewers that i follow on instagram. They all raved about it. I have no clue why. while the narrator is tolerable, the stories are just bland and one sided and i did not get the premise at all. i listened for a little over 3 hours. i am throwing in this towel. i would not recommend this book to anyone. not even if it were on sale. not even if it were free.

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Nope.

The author's musings don't sound remarkable to me. More like someone you desperately want to get away from at a party.

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unsatisfying

I found this book to be an unsatisfying read by a seemingly self-indulgent author. I finished it hoping for something to bring it all together ... but nothing.

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Conversation Item

Miranda Popkey is the star of her small show. Here and there you get the crafty page, the feel of narrative skills: the promise, unkept. All in all, a bag full of cheap tricks - conversation items bound to work, to mesmerize always already. Regardless of the reader.

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A beautiful read/listen

This book is worthy of conversation with Sheila Heti, Jenny Offill, Rachel Cusk, and Sally Rooney. In these lonely and scary times, the intimacy of this book held me. The narrator is tough, but you feel her deeply. I sobbed several times in strange places—from a riff centered on Norman Mailer to the end acknowledgments. I don't think this book has gotten enough attention. I hope you read it and feel it as deeply as I did it.