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My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

A layered new work from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author

A layered new work from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

There isn’t a lot of action in this latest novel from Elizabeth Strout, who won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge in 2009. But there is such depth of feeling that of nearly everything I read this year, it has stayed with me the most. My Name is Lucy Barton is set mainly in a New York hospital where the protagonist, who has a mysterious illness, stays for almost nine weeks. Her estranged mother comes to be with her. Their conversations—and all that is unsaid, and unasked—form the core of this compassionate novel that quietly, powerfully reveals how hard it is to really communicate, even with those we love the most.

Random House, $26, 208 pages, penguinrandomhouse.com

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