Book Review: Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic

3.5/5 Stars.

This debut novel makes me really excited for what Sudjic will write next. There were parts of it that didn’t work for me, but others that deeply resonated.

Twenty-three year old Alice Hare moves from London to New York City to stay with an old relative and seek necessary change in her empty life. While there, she becomes infatuated with an older woman named Mizuko, whom she stalks online until ultimately arranging an encounter. Alice gradually works her way into Mizuko’s life and the lives of the people around her, desperate for a connection that may not actually be there.

Sudjic’s voice is extremely clever, brimming with dry humor and smart insights. Her characters are compelling, her dialogue is excellent. Where I struggled was with the pacing and the narrative. In fact, I think this would have worked better as a leaner novel with more focus.

Thematically, Sudjic has a lot of interesting things to say about a modern culture in which everything about anyone is available at our fingertips. How does this affect intimacy and connection? Does it help fill the void or merely deepen it?

Lots of exciting stuff here. With better editing, it could have been truly great.

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