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The Friend

International Dublin Literary Award, 2020

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349018133

Price: £9.99

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A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog – now in a stunning new edition as part of Virago’s 50th anniversary Five Gold Reads series


‘A true delight: I genuinely fear I won’t read a better novel this year’ FINANCIAL TIMES

‘Loved this. A funny, moving examination of love, grief, and the uniqueness of dogs’ GRAHAM NORTON


When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unravelling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

‘Very, very clever. Mature. Entertaining. Eminently readable and re-readable. Absolutely delightful’ IRISH TIMES

‘I loved it . . . It’s one of my favourite books and it moved me’ WHOOPI GOLDBERG

A New York Times Notable Book of 2018 * A Financial Times 2018 Best Book: Critics Pick * A Buzzfeed Best Book of 2018 * A Bustle Best Fiction Book of 2018 * An NPR Best Book of 2018

Celebrating five decades of the feminist publisher, each of the Five Gold Reads represents an iconic moment in Virago’s history, from the 1970s to today.


Very very clever. Mature. Entertaining. Eminently readable and re-readable. In short, absolutely delightful.
Irish Times
A true delight: I genuinely fear I won't read a better novel this year
Financial Times
Often as funny as it is thoughtful, The Friend is an elegant meditation on grief, friendship, healing, and the bonds between humans and dogs
The book is an intimate, beautiful thing, deceptively slight at around 200 pages, but humming with insight . . . [an] artfully discursive meditation on friendship, love, death, solitude, canine companionship and the life of an aging writer in New York .. peppered with wry observations
The Economist
A beautiful book . . . crammed with a world of insight into death, grief, art, and love
Wall Street Journal
An elegant and darkly humorous meditation on grief and companionship, it's a great read - whether or not you're obsessed with canines
In crystalline prose, Nunez creates an impressively controlled portrait of the 'exhaustion of mourning'
New Yorker
A sneaky gut punch of a novel . . . a consummate example of the human-animal tale
Harper's Magazine
She has a wry compassion, and an eye for the kind of detail only grown-ups can catch. The books feel lived-in rather than hard-earned, the voice is smart and kind
Anne Enright, The Times
Charming ... the comedy here writes itself... The snap of her sentences sometimes puts me in mind of Rachel Cusk
New York Times
A pitch-perfect novel ... Wry and moving, The Friend is a love story, a mania story and a recovery story
Vanity Fair
Delicious ... An intensely pleasurable read because it is so accessible, capacious and clever
Sunday Times
Loved this. A funny, moving examination of love, grief, and the uniqueness of dogs
Graham Norton
I loved it . . . It's one of my favourite books and it moved me
Whoopi Goldberg, The View
The contemplation of writing and the loss of integrity in our literary life form the heart of the novel . . . Nunez's prose itself comforts us. Her confident and direct style uplifts - the music in her sentences, her deep and varied intelligence. She addresses important ideas unpretentiously and offers wisdom for any aspiring writer who, as the narrator fears, may never know this dear, intelligent friend - or this world that is dying. But is it dying? Perhaps. But with The Friend, Nunez provides evidence that, for now, it survives
New York Times Book Review
Astonishingly fresh and tinged with sadness . . . a highly entertaining, uplifting book exploring the magical bond between humans and canines. A must-read for dog-lovers.
Rebecca Wallersteiner, The Lady
A poignant reflection on loss and companionship
Marie Claire