The Best Fiction of 2015


Outline, Rachel Cusk

In a year when literature was celebrated for being “big” and “ambitious,” Cusk’s slim and ambitious novel deserved attention. The narration involves a newly alone writer and teacher at a seminar in Greece, having conversations with strangers, friends, and students, through which her own life is barely visible — only a shadow here, a detail there. Instead, the men around her, and several women too, use her to project and share their own stories, their insecurities and resentment, and she coolly takes it in. It’s a study in passive aggression, a sort of literary version of an eating disorder, a kind of pain and project that actually feels fresh, and a direct provocation to the established mode of storytelling. — SS