Winner of the National Book Award


Winner of the National Book Award, the long-awaited novel from the author of the acclaimed collection, Jenny and the Jaws of Life, is an unusual and wonderful novel that is somehow able to be at once bleak and hilarious, light-hearted and profound.

It’s the story of two sisters. Abigail Mather is a woman of enormous appetites, sexual and otherwise. Her fraternal twin Dorcas couldn’t be more different: she gave up on sex without once trying it, and she lives a controlled, dignified life of the mind. Though Abigail exasperates Dorcas, the two love each other; in fact, they complete each other. They are an odd pair, set down in an odd Rhode Island town, where everyone has a story to tell, and writers, both published and unpublished, carom off each other like billiard balls.

What is it that makes the two women targets for the new man in town, the charming schlockmeister Conrad Lowe, tall, whippet-thin and predatory? In Abigail and Dorcas he sees a new and tantalizing challenge. Not the mere conquest of Abigail, with her easy reputation, but a longer and more sinister game. A game that will lead to betrayal, shame and, ultimately, murder.

In her darkly comic and unsettling first novel, Jincy Willett proves that she is a true find: that rare writer who can explore the shadowy side of human nature with the lightest of touches.

Jincy Willett is a writer and editor based in San Diego, CA. Her short stories have appeared in Playgirl, The Yale Review, and the Massachusetts Review.


“Willett’s second book…is a brilliant black comedy starring twins with antithetical dispositions and a handsome stranger with designs on both of them….Poignant and funny, mean and tender, Willett’s novel is exuberantly original.”
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“The funniest novel I have read, possibly ever. Brilliant, totally original, and worthy of its title. I promise you will laugh constantly and to the point of stomach damage.”
—Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and Dry

“Audaciously titled, cleverly constructed, Winner of the National Book Award is an elegy wrapped inside a satire, a sorrowful meditation on the mysteries of sibling love and rivalry concealed within a bitterly funny chronicle of literary buffoonery. Jincy Willett is a fearless writer, capable of startling the reader into rueful laughter at every turn.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Joe College

“‘A well-wrought piece of fiction,’ the heroine of this novel declares, ‘helps us make sense out of the chaos of our lives. Why be deliberately obscure when real life is so impossibly fractured and opaque?’ Well, exactly. How rarely the knacks for wisdom and for cracking wise come in one single, satisfying package. (Also, who knew Rhode Island could be so entertaining?) So: hurrah for Jincy Willett, and for her funny, charming, humane, and altogether well-wrought piece of fiction.”
—Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century