Book Buzz: Second Place by Rachel Cusk

“...part confession, part allegory―that unflinchingly peers into the crevices of

relationships.” ―O, the Oprah Magazine



A haunting fable of art, family, and fate from the author of the Outline trilogy.


A woman invites a famous artist to use her guesthouse in the remote coastal landscape where she lives with her family. Powerfully drawn to his paintings, she believes his vision might penetrate the mystery at the center of her life. But as a long, dry summer sets in, his provocative presence itself becomes an enigma―and disrupts the calm of her secluded household.

Second Place, Rachel Cusk’s electrifying new novel, is a study of female fate and male privilege, the geometries of human relationships, and the moral questions that animate our lives. It reminds us of art’s capacity to uplift―and to destroy.


“Second Place is a comedy of misrecognition. Six characters wind up together in a pair of houses located on a marsh, and the question of the novel is whether they can see each other for who they really are . . . Very potent comedy . . . One thing Cusk has done in Second Place is to restore some mystery to the idea of artistic genius in an era when we prefer to speak of ‘craft’ and ‘process’.”
―Christian Lorentzen

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

192 Pages

ISBN 9780374279226


Rachel Cusk is the author of the Outline trilogy, the memoirs A Life’s Work and Aftermath, and several other works of fiction and nonfiction. She is a Guggenheim fellow. She lives in Paris.