Genre: Fiction
Published: 13 February 2020
Publisher: Granta

Weather

by Jenny Offill


‘What are you afraid of, he asks me and the answer of course is dentistry, humiliation, scarcity, then he says what are your most useful skills? People think I’m funny’

Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practise her other calling: as an unofficial shrink. For years, she has supported her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but then her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. Sylvia has become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization.

As she dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you’ve seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to acknowledge the limits of what she can do. But if she can’t save others, then what, or who, might save her? And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in–funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.

"Jenny Offill conjures entire worlds with her steady, near-pointillist technique. One feels a whole heaving, breathing universe behind her every line. Dread, the sensation of sinking, lostness, and being cast away from any sense of safety infiltrates every interaction and private moment in this book, like the ashes from the burning world she describes." - Sheila Heti
"The end times don’t deserve such exquisite literary investigation. I folded down every page until I realised there was no point, I would fold them all, I would read the book again the second I was finished. A gorgeous, funny, deadly serious and warmly revelatory mesh of perfect paragraphs." - Max Porter
"There is no doubt that Jenny Offill is the writer for this particular historical moment. WEATHER is a tour de force of her considerable and startling gifts: the compressed and gorgeous sentences, the astounding comic timing, the profound and wise surprises. The miracle of this novel is how it looks at our contradictions and conditions with such bracing honesty and yet gives us a tender hopefulness toward these fraught humans. Offill makes us feel implicated but also loved." - Dana Spiotta
“Jenny Offill writes beautiful sentences; she is also a deft curator of silences. It’s this counterpoint of eloquence and felt absence that enables her to register the emotional and political weather of our present.” - Ben Lerner
"Like her brilliant 2014 bestseller Dept of Speculation, this is a fragmented wander through an anxious, funny mind, with odd connections arriving in overheard anecdotes. It’s great." - Eva Wiseman
“Compact and wholly contemporary, Jenny Offill’s third novel sees a librarian find deep meaning and deep despair in her side gig as an armchair therapist for those in existential crisis, including liberals fearing climate apocalypse and conservatives fearing the demise of ‘American values.’ As she attempts to save everyone, our protagonist is driven to her limits, making for a canny, comic story about the power of human need.” - Esquire
‘A dazzling state-of-the-nation novel that is every bit as good as its predecessor’ - The Observer
"Jenny Offill distills all our contemporary fears into one brilliant, funny and terrifying novel. Convinced that Doomsday is coming, protagonist Lizzie begins to overthink and obsess over preparing for the end. The apocalypse has never been this enjoyable." - I-D
"Perfect territory for Offill’s ideas about zeitgeist fears and how we tackle them… [Offill’s] prose operates like a lightning rod for passing thoughts… profound… terrific, immersive writing" - The Big Issue
‘Excellent… Using her characteristic, epigrammatic prose style that’s both jittery and deadpan at the same time, Offill presents us with a wryly funny state-of-the-nation novel wired to the hilt with a dread that’ll infect your dreams.’ - The Daily Mail
‘Bewitching… [Charts] the changing political and emotional weather of our times… This fragmentary style evokes the way we think and live today, the way we tweet and text, the way our attention is pulled from one topic to the next, dragged back from the personal to the political and back again, often within the space of a few minutes. Weather evokes, through an engaging narrator, the terrible, thrumming energy of this world on the edge and tells a human story to go along with it. It is beguiling and funny, melancholy and endlessly thought-provoking’ - I Paper
‘A dazzling response to climate crisis and political anxiety.' - The Guardian
‘Guaranteed to make you feel less alone… melancholy… funny, and overflowing with observations so precise that I gasped in recognition… Combined with Offill’s ability to nail an emotion in just a few words, it’s almost like reading a series of unbelievably sharp memes… striking… brilliant in the truest sense of the word, capturing the anxieties of modern life – climate, politics, privilege, sex, tech – with the lightest of touches. In the future, when people want to know what living in 2020 was like, they should just read Weather’ - Stylist

Other Books by Jenny Offill