The second book of a trilogy. In the wake of her family’s collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of this upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions?personal, moral, artistic, and practical?as she endeavors to construct a new reality for herself and her children.
It’s only January, but I doubt that I’ll read a better novel this year than Rachel Cusk’s Transit. Cusk writes in a cut-glass style that is elegant, austere, and disciplined — an important word in a novel about gaining control over the self and fate. Yet this cool, balanced style is used to describe the hottest of feelings and the most destabilizing of experiences ... Faye is more of a presence in this novel than in the last. She’s still an outline, but she’s a clearer one ... At this midpoint in Cusk’s series, Faye remains in transit. But under the beautifully composed surface, the plates of Faye’s self are shifting.
...tremendous from its opening sentence ... Cusk is always an exciting writer: striking and challenging, with a distinctive cool prose voice, and behind that coolness something untamed and full of raw force, even rash ... This way of sequencing narrative feels like an elegant formal solution to the problem of the sheer force of personality in Cusk’s writing. It’s a striking gesture of relinquishment. Faye’s story contends for space against all these others, and the novel’s meaning is devolved out from its centre in her to a succession of characters ... The novel’s language is spare and vivid and exact, never inflated. There’s no exaggerated effort to imitate the accents or voices of the various storytellers, and yet the prose is scrupulously attentive to the gritty detail in what they tell ... All too often there is a trade-off between formal experiments in literature and reading pleasure, but the joy of Transit is that it’s so eminently readable.
Rachel Cusk’s project appears to be nothing less than the reinvention of the form itself ... It is a risky business, this summing up. Show, don’t tell, say the creative writing manuals. Cusk has torn up the rule book, and in the process created a work of stunning beauty, deep insight and great originality ... Cusk’s novel appears to chime with the Nietzschean concept of self as a continuous process of becoming ... Where other novelists have looked 'deep within,' Cusk seeks to rise above the 'I.' In doing so, she has created from Faye’s 'absence' a palpable, recognizable presence, and constructed a meditation on the nature of self, freedom, narrative and reality. Best of all, she has given us all this in a novel that is compulsively readable.