Take What You Need: A Novel (Hardcover)

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In her most powerful book yet, award-winning writer Idra Novey has conjured a novel of "astonishing and singular" honesty (Rumaan Alam) with two determined, unforgettable female voices.

Set in the Allegheny Mountains of Appalachia, Take What You Need traces the parallel lives of Jean, and her beloved but estranged stepdaughter, Leah, who's sought a clean break from her rural childhood. In Leah's urban life with her young family, she's revealed little about Jean, how much she misses her stepmother’s hard-won insights and joyful lack of inhibition. But with Jean's death, Leah must return to sort through what's been left behind. 

What Leah discovers is staggering: Jean has filled the house with giant sculptures she’s welded from scraps of the area’s industrial history. There’s also a young man now living in the house who's played an unknown role in Jean's last years and in her art. 

With great verve and humor, Idra Novey zeroes in on the joys and difficulty of family, the ease with which we let distance mute conflict, and the power we can draw from creative pursuits.

Passionate and resonant, Take What You Need explores the continuing mystery of the people we love most, and what can be built from what others have discarded—art, unexpected friendship, a new contentment of self. This is Idra Novey at her very best.

About the Author

Idra Novey is the award-winning author of the novels Ways to Disappear and Those Who Knew. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages and she’s written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. She teaches fiction at Princeton University and in the MFA Program at New York University.

Praise For…

"Idra Novey’s Take What You Need is a story about art and passion, about the people and places who forge us. This singular and astonishing novel probes one of the biggest questions of the day: In a moment of cultural and political fracture, how do we live with one another?"
—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind  

"Take What You Need is exhilarating, a major novel. I read it in a white heat. Idra Novey writes with ferocious intelligence about the impulse to make beauty in a country coming apart at the seams."
—Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You

"Take What You Need is a propulsive, profound, and electric portrait of small-town America’s decline. Jean, the main character, is complex, cantankerous and vulnerable; a character who will remain with you for weeks after you read the book. This is Novey’s most powerful novel yet."
—Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings

"Novey fully renders the inarticulable parts of artmaking—the antagonism of an artist’s material, the pleasure in that difficulty, the way it troubles tidy ideas of legacy."
—Raven Leilani, author of Luster

"An extraordinarily moving novel. Take What You Need is a masterful depiction of the radical, transformative power of outsider art. I'll never forget Jean and her scavenged metal towers, or the hard-earned beauty and truth waiting at the heart of this stunning new American fairy tale."
—Matt Bell, author of Appleseed

"It's impossible not to become invested in these characters. The palpable tension between Jean and Leah and those they hold close, burns and burns. Reader, you may be emotionally wrecked by this book, but I assure you-- your heart is in the hand of a masterful storyteller.”
—Angie Cruz, author of Dominicana and How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

"In crystalline sentences, Idra Novey has created a suspenseful work of deep moral imagination. The relationship between step-daughter and mother has the explosive power of fairy tales, myths, and ancient texts."
Alice Elliott Dark, author of Fellowship Point

"One of the best novels I have read in years. A moving and heartbreaking book about the power of art, connection, and the complex nature of love."
David Gutowski, LargeheartedBoy

"Idra Novey appears capable of doing it all. She is a poet, a translator, and with Take What You Need, her third book of fiction, she is firmly establishing herself as one of the finest and bravest novelists working today… Novey is a master of the small and enormous mysteries that compose every person’s life, and Take What You Need is her most skillful exploration of artistic dedication and the ruins that accrue over the course of a life."

"Transforming the odd and the homely into something beautiful is both the subject and the accomplishment of this book."
Kirkus Reviews
(starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593652855
ISBN-10: 0593652851
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: March 14th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English