This review comes approximately one and a half years late, but that won't stop me from writing about it for my daily post!
Ottessa Moshfegh's novel encapsulates what it meant to be a bratty, trust fund baby living in pre 9/11 New York City, languishing in their bought apartments with little knowledge of the outside-Manhattan bubble, and blissfully unaware of the political and warring turmoil only around the corner. The protagonist, an unnamed orphan who lives off her inheritance, is a pill-popping, depressive and narcissistic layabout whose only goal is, for an entire year, to sleep through the whole thing. Unbothered by the world around her, ignoring her only friend and her job responsibilities, she embodies the feeling of ultimate depression that comes with an unlikeable tinge and accompanying thoughts of "god, what an insufferable character". She has an opportunity, an escape from this life in the form of material wealth. She has full coverage health insurance and a social charm that once won her the affection and attention of many. But she just doesn't give a shit.
Moshfegh does a stellar job at making the main character as unlikeable and unsavoury as humanly possible, making each paragraph of her languishing and complaining a gingerly page-turner. And yet, in a way, you're rooting for her, as many people do when living with somebody in the depth of depression.
The goal of sleeping for a year is described as a 'chemical hibernation', which I think can also be used as a metaphor for the culture of prescription drugs and overall numbness of self that many people experience today. Moving through life as one would wade through water, in the right direction, but with little feeling or emotion. A chemically-induced living experience.
The book, so beautifully written and with a hint of black comedy throughout the whole thing, is one that makes you want to turn off your phone and go for a walk. A feeling that I definitely experienced in 2019, and one that, I'm sure, is felt and longed for by the rest of the world this last year.