In 1960s America, 24-year-old Eileen Dunlop works at a correctional facility for boys and lives in a dreary house with her alcoholic father, with whom she has a close but complicated relationship. Her life in small-town Massachusetts is filled with boredom, self-loathing, and desire.
It is transformed by the arrival of the beautiful Rebecca Saint John to the facility, which sets off a chain of events that leads to Eileen disappearing. The story is told from the point of view of a much older Eileen, who remembers the events of the one extraordinary week that dramatically changed her life.
This is Otessa Moshfegh’s second novel, and has been widely hailed as a compelling character study. Of Eileen’s character, a review in The Guardian said, “She elicits sympathy and revulsion in the reader.”
A New York Times review of the novel called it “seductive”, and said the character of Eileen is “anything but generic.”
In his Washington Post review of the novel, Patrick Anderson said, “Eileen is a remarkable piece of writing, always dark and surprising, sometimes ugly and occasionally hilarious.”
The novel has been short- and long-listed for several major awards, including the Man Booker Prize and the Shirley Jackson Award. It won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.
Published in 2015.