Consolation attentively focuses on what happens when a celebrated photojournalist is killed in a car accident and three women whose lives overlapped with his are left to reckon with his absence. As these women, each of a different generation, navigate the emotional landscape of grief, they question how their lives have unfolded and how this loss might change their paths going forward. With empathy and humor, Consolation explores the connections and echoes that exist among these women as it looks at those ambiguous yet affecting relationships we never quite know how to define. And it delves into the complexities of modern life—the inauthenticity prompted in us all by social media; the gaps created by gender, age, and class that we're forever trying to fill; and our collective struggle to balance the choices available to us in ways that will not foreclose either happiness or fulfillment. Whose losses do we deem valuable and whose work and ambitions are given room to grow? What happens when the footnotes become the story?
Deborah Shapiro is the author of the novels Consolation, The Summer Demands, and The Sun in Your Eyes (a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice). Her work has also appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Sight Unseen, Chicago Magazine, Literary Hub, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her family in Chicago.
"Written with elegance and wisdom, Consolation is about the ways in which lives take shape and pass us by, filled with crossings at once significant and fleeting. A serene, engrossing, powerful novel." - Aysegül Savas, author of White on White and Walking on the Ceiling
"Deborah Shapiro's writing is as finely tuned in its perceptions as Elizabeth Bowen's and as satisfyingly ambiguous as Henry James's. Its endlessly questioning interiority and ability to grasp the infinite mutability of human relationships–from marriage to maternity, ordinary friendship to those profound, enigmatic connections that don't always have a name–is nothing short of miraculous. Whether she is writing about an encounter between a middle-aged woman and a younger interloper, or between three women at the funeral of a man with whom each has been differently involved, her writing has astounding depth and penetration. It is a joy, always, to read it." - Matthew Specktor, author of Always Crashing in the Same Car
"It's a book you hand a treasured friend. It's a book that puts life into words." - Lindsay Hunter, author of Eat Only When You’re Hungry and Hot Springs Drive
"Reading any of Shapiro's slim, gem-like novels is like sitting down to a quietly refined feast. She possesses a deep linguistic and psychological sensitivity so finely honed, so aware of its relationship to time and culture, it makes each book feel like nothing less than a classic; these are people and places we have always known, have always been, and yet they surprise us still, asking again and again the best of questions: What is a life, after all? Absolutely seamless in its construction and blisteringly intelligent in its execution, supremely elegant and exquisitely felt, Consolation is yet another proof that Shapiro is among the finest writers alive." - Maryse Meijer, author of The Seventh Mansion and Rag
"Deborah Shapiro's keen wit and deep compassion give her a dazzling grasp of her complex, passionate characters." - Sam Lipsyte, author of No One Left to Come Looking for You and The Ask