Surrender. I’ve never read a novel like Joshua Ferris’ new book, The Unnamed. Readers are likely to love or hate it; I’m closer to the love end, thanks to Ferris’ fine writing. Protagonist Tim Farnsworth suffers from a mysterious (unnamed) disease that compels him to walk until he’s exhausted. His wife, Jane, brings meaning to the worse part of “for better or for worse” as she drops whatever she’s doing to rescue Tim from wherever he’s collapsed after his forced walking. The Unnamed presents marriage from many perspectives and with great skill, especially on the ways in which love endures all, and the sacrifice one can make out of love for another. Tim ends up surrendering his career as a high-powered lawyer because of this disease. His daughter Becka cares for him while Jane works, and their relationship provides a strong motif in the novel. Ferris deals with all aspects of surrender in The Unnamed: to illness, to the loss of work, to not being able to live with the one you love. The transformation of Tim and his family in this novel will leave all readers thinking about identity and what changes when one surrenders to forces that are uncontrollable.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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