Lisa Halliday

Published: 15 November 2018
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 288 pages
ISBN: 9781783783625

About the author

Image of Lisa Halliday

Lisa Halliday has worked as a freelance editor and translator in Milan, where she lives with her husband. Her short story 'Stump Louie' appeared in The Paris Review in 2005. Asymmetry is her first novel More about the author


‘[A] whip-smart debut novel’



‘[With] images that shine as brightly as new coins... a symphonyJames Marriott

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday isn't just any debut. Dubbed a 'dazzling hand-grenade of a novel' [...] it's aiming to explode the power imbalances of modern life. From the personal to the political, it shines a light on disparities between male and female, East and West, old and young -and comes to a conclusion that you won't forget’

Asymmetry is a novel of deceptive lightness and a sort of melancholy joy. Lisa Halliday writes with tender laugh-aloud wit, but under her formidable, reckoning gaze a world of compelling characters emerges. She steps onto the literary stage with the energy of a debut novelist and the confidence of a mature writer’ Louise Erdrich

[Asymmetry] eviscerates [and] delves into power imbalances with an implacability fit for our time... Wonderfully terse, Asymmetry [is] constructed like a puzzle box, with three parts that slot together only at the end... The structural originality of Asymmetry may be startling, but the story arcs towards a gratifying catharsis’ Benjamin Evans

[A] notable debut... Lisa Halliday's graceful juxtaposition of chance, fate and literary fame’ Book of the Year selected by Justine Jordan

Asymmetry is an amazing piece of work. Ms. Halliday has a unique ability to make the familiar strange, and the strange familiar. I'm struggling to think of a novel that has had a similar effect on me. Asymmetry is funny, sad, deeply humane, and clearly the product of a bold intelligence at work. One can only hope that something this good will find as wide an audience as it so obviously deservesKevin Powers

A scorchingly intelligent first novel by Lisa Halliday, [Asymmetry] is a clever comedy of manners set in Manhattan [...] which poses deep questions about free will, fate and freedom, the all-powerful accident of one's birth and how life is alchemized into fiction... Asymmetry is not complicated, but it cannot be read complacently. Like it or not, it will make you a better readerParul Shegal

A witty, entertaining novelDeclan Ryan

Absorbing [and] dazzling... As Blazer observes, fiction is one way we can get beyond the limits of our own lives to imaging the realities of others' worlds’ Stephanie Cross

Impossible to put down, and to pin down ... a bold, elegant examination of the dynamics of love, power, ambition, and the ways we try to find our place in the world, whether at 25 or 75.’

Incredible debut novelES Magazine

Lisa Halliday is a writer to watchJames Marriott

Moving and enlighteningEva Wiseman

One of the most exciting debuts of the year... Deliciously ambitious and absorbingSummer Books of 2018

Quite brilliantLucy Whetman

Smart, stylish, surprisingBook of the Year selected by Claire Lowdun

Spellbinding... A literary phenomenonKaty Waldman

Strange, funny, touching and incredibly sharpSummer Books round up selected by Mark O’Connell

Stunningly adept writing used to captivating effect. A highly original, compelling and relevant book full of nuance, wit and insight. And laughs, it also has laughs’ Kirsty Young

Subtle, thought-provoking and intenseBest books of 2018 selected by Belinda McKeon

The rarest of literary beasts: a work with proper avant-garde credentials... A clever and provocative mix of the kind of writing that gets read as autobiographical, and the kind that doesn't’ Edmund Gordon

TriumphantNeil Jordan

‘A smart, insightful read about love, life and art’

‘Delicious... Halliday is knowing - about isolation, dissatisfaction and the pain of being human’ Sarah Begley

‘Funny, frightening, packed with literary excerpts and allusions, musical references, baseball and history, the parts intricately connect... dazzling, ingeniousBook of the Year selected by Elaine Showalter

‘Halliday's narrative versatility and the many other lives glimpsed in Asymmetry open up a wide, rewarding and complex world’

‘I found Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry sharp, timely and refreshing ...I'll be putting it on students' reading lists as soon as the paperback comes out’ Book of the Year selected by Sarah Moss

‘I galloped through Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry, which tells two parallel tales: one, a pacy, titillating account of the affair between the gauche seductress Alice, who works in publishing and a Pulitzer Prize-winner 45 years her senior... the second, a more languid story about the life of an Iraqi-American economist, Amar’ Book of the Year selected by Phoebe Luckhurst

‘I read Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday twice...Halliday can write... she can describe the ordinary [and] there are some terrific jokesSelected by Craig Raine as a book of the year

‘In her stunning debut novel, Lisa Halliday places three storylines in close proximity, leading to fascinating contrasts. After reading only a few sentences of her intelligent prose (and that dialogue!), you'll be itching for her next novel whenever it should come’ Books of the Year selected by Katy Thomspett

‘Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry is elegant, funny, ingenious, profound and wildly enjoyable. You'll read it in one sitting, only pausing now and again to check the endpapers and confirm that this is indeed a first novel. I loved, admired and envied this novel. It's a wonder Zadie Smith

‘Lisa Halliday's debut novel starts like a story you've heard, only to become a book unlike any you've read. The initial mystery is how its pieces fit together; the lasting one is how she pulled the whole thing off. Deft, funny, and humane, Asymmetry is a profoundly necessary political novel about the place for art in an unjust worldChad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding

‘Lisa Halliday's striking debut is certainly - as the title implies - a sharp examination of the unequal power dynamic between men and women, innocence and experience, fame and aspiration... Daring [with] deliciously fertile ambiguities [and] a delicately devastating irony... this is a debut asking a dizzying number of questions, many to thrilling effect. That it leaves the reader wondering is a mark of its success’ Justine Jordan

‘Of admirable erudition and stylishness... enjoyable... Halliday dispenses information in profusion and colour on a wide range of subjects’ Patrick Skene Catling

‘Wow. Asymmetry is a rare book in the sense that it is always shocking to read something this good and polished and fully formed, a novel that impossibly seems to be everything at once: transgressive and shocking and intimate and expansive, torn from today's headlines, signifier of the strange moment we now occupy. Somehow this book, this author has all but exploded into the world, fully formed. Lisa Halliday is an amazing writer. Just open this thing, start at the beginningCharles Bock, author of Beautiful Children

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