The way this character treats herself and others is despicable, yet she is magnetic as we drift with her through the minutiae of her sleep and waking hours, which sometimes feel like the same thing. There’s an overwhelming sense of disorder, and so little to like about our protagonist, but in a way it’s this duality, this morbid fascination and visceral disgust, that makes it all work.
The ending of the book somewhere around September 2001 is contentious, with some readers finding it poignant and others, cheap – but Moshfegh’s encapsulation of Millennial ennui feels perfectly «of the moment», even almost two decades after the novel’s setting.
It’s about nothing … and yet about everything. As a 30-year-old female reader, I felt disturbingly drawn to the odious protagonist, seeing parts of myself in her utter disdain for herself and the world around her. That obnoxious women can be antiheroes in literature feels like a revelation to me, after years of reading about unlikeable men – our interior lives can be as ugly as they can be beautiful, and that makes for addictive reading, too.