â€śThe great power of this book, which won the PEN/Hemingway debut fiction award last month, is that Eileen is never simply a literary gargoyle; she is painfully alive and human, and Ottessa Moshfegh writes her with a bravura wildness that allows flights of expressionistic fantasy to alternate with deadpan matter of factnessâ€¦As an evocation of physical and psychological squalor, Eileen is original, courageous and masterful.â€ť â€”The Guardian
â€śIf Jim Thompson had married Patricia Highsmith â€“ imagine that household â€“ they might have conspired together to dream up something like Eileen. Itâ€™s blacker than black and cold as an icicle. Itâ€™s also brilliantly realised and horribly funny.â€ť â€”John Banville
â€ś[A] dark and unnerving debut.â€ťâ€”Publishers Weekly
â€śâ€¦It is in that gritty, claustrophobic atmosphere that Ms. Moshfeghâ€™s talents are most apparent. This young writer already possesses a remarkably sighted view into the bleakest alleys of the psyche.â€ťÂ â€”Wall Street Journal
â€śWonderfully unsettling first novel . . .Â When the denouement comes, itâ€™s as shocking as it is thrilling. Part of the pleasure of the book (besides the almost killing tension) is that Eileen is mordantly funny . . . this tale belongs to both the past and future Eileen, a truly original character who is gloriously unlikable, dirty, startling â€” and as ferociously human as the novel that bears her name.â€ťâ€”San Francisco Chronicle
“Rife with dark emotions and twisted fantasies, Moshfegh’s psychological thriller is the sinister account of the reclusive Eileen, whose prospects for escape from her abysmal life take a turn for the worse when a friendship with a coworker spirals into obsession.”â€”Oprah.com
â€śEileen swaddles the reader in its dark and sinister mood. Moshfegh’s brilliant storytelling builds an almost sadistic level of suspense, so that you can’t help but lean in and listen to the narrator, however despicable and repulsive her confession becomes.â€ťâ€”Sarah Hollenbeck, co-owner of Women & Children First bookstore, Chicago
â€śEileen is a singular read, dark and funny and full of oft-queasy truths, ones that may at first seem strange and disturbing, but then are not so far away from our own internal thoughts. Eileen is quiet, awkward and lonely. As Christmas approaches, she is desperate to leave her alcoholic father, her dismal home life and her mind-numbing job at a boysâ€™ correctional facility. Enter her glamorous â€śnew friendâ€ť Rebecca and suddenly Eileen is set on a path towards inevitable change, a suspenseful ride to the end. Atmospheric, cinematic, and deliciously uncomfortably heartwarmingly pathetic in the best of ways.â€ťâ€”Melinda Powers, Bookshop Santa Cruz (also sent in to Indie Next)
â€śEileen is unlike anything I’ve read since, maybe, Patricia Highsmith: a wholly captivating look at a character you’re drawn towards in a strange, inexplicable alliance and from whom you can’t easily part. I find myself thinking about it still, months later, in the most unexpected ways. Mosfegh has a way with the kind of imagery that brings her world into terrible, precise emotional focus, and the book builds like a slow avalanche. What a pleasure to read!â€ťâ€”Camden Avery, The Booksmith, San Francisco
“Charmingly disturbing. Delightfully dour. Pleasingly perverse. These are some of the oxymorons that ran through my mind as I readÂ Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh’s intense, flavorful, remarkable new novel. “Funny awful” might be another one. I marveled at myself for enjoying the scenes I was witnessing, and wondered what dark magic the author had employed to make me smile at them. â€“ NPR.ORG
â€śTempting plot machinations aside, you should be reading Moshfegh because she writes incredible sentences, the kind that build and build to create a warped momentum you canâ€™t brake. They create a harsh, blackly humorous world, like Mary Gaitskill, but less grave and with more jokes.â€ť- Gawker
â€śLike The Woman Upstairs and Notes on a Scandal, Eileen turns on the symbiotic relationship between love and hate, hope and delusion, and â€” for the reader â€” repulsion and absolute absorption.â€ť- New York Magazine
â€śThe climax of “Eileen” is bizarre, creepy and oddly satisfying. This novel does not fit neatly into a single genre. Its protagonist is unlikable but fascinating, and ultimately sympathetic. It is a masterly psychological drama that lingers, with a disquieting effect, in the reader’s mind.â€ť- Newsday
â€śThe attention that is now greeting Moshfeghâ€™s first novel is not undeserved. â€śEileenâ€ť is a remarkable piece of writing, always dark and surprising, sometimes ugly and occasionally hilarious. Its first-person narrator is one of the strangest, most messed-up, most pathetic â€” and yet, in her own inimitable way, endearing â€” misfits Iâ€™ve encountered in fiction. Trust me, you have never read anything remotely like â€śEileen.â€ť-Washington Post
â€śâ€śEileen is anything but generic. Eileen is as vivid and human as they come . . . Moshfegh, whose novella, â€śMcGlue,â€ť was published last year, writes beautiful sentences. One after the other they unwind â€” playful, shocking, wise, morbid, witty, searingly sharp. The Â¬beginning of this novel is so impressive, so controlled yet whimsical, fresh and thrilling, you feel she can do anything . . . There is that wonderful tension between wanting to slow down and bathe in the language and imagery, and the impulse to race to see what happens, how it happens.â€ť- The New York Times Book Review
â€śHer best work yet . . . What makes Moshfegh an important writer â€” and I’d even say crucial â€” is that she is unlike any other author (male, female, Iranian, American, etc.). And this sui generis quality is cemented by the singular savage suburban noir of “Eileen.” She tries relentlessly to pull you away and out, not unlike her own self-destructive characters, who seem a bit addicted to their own repulsiveness. Moshfegh’s palettes are big and small, fictional realms that are often vague in a way that makes them allegorical almost, universal in their blurriness and yet at the same time meticulously rendered with specific details. And she often does this with little attention to theme. Her fiction offers a sense that is of our world but also altogether hostile to clear distillation of it. Here is art that manages to reject artifice and yet be something wholly new and itself in sheer artistry.â€ť- The Los Angeles Times
â€śThe young heroineâ€”if you can call her thatâ€”of Ottessa Moshfeghâ€™s chilling debut is exactly the kind of woman whom noir authors tended to summarily ignore. Think of her as a Flannery Oâ€™Connor character wandering around a Raymond Chandler novel . . . Moshfegh uses that carefully constructed foundation to build a truly shocking ending, one youâ€™ll never see coming. Itâ€™s hard to believe sheâ€™s a first-time novelist, so skillfully has she grafted disparate genre elements onto one another: psychological suspense, horror, obsession, and madness. Eileen is as twisted, dark, and unexpected as its title character.â€ť- Entertainment Weekly
â€śexcellent debut novel . . . How will Eileen get out of X-ville? Can she leave unscathed? Why does she keep talking about her fatherâ€™s gun? Though readers will thoroughly delight in the way the answers unfold, they will be left with one lingering question: What will Ottessa Moshfegh do next?â€ť- Boston Globe
â€śIn this masterful feat of suspense writing, she captures the distortions and complicities that poison families.â€ťâ€”BBC.com
â€śEileenÂ is a highbrow noir that introducesÂ Ottessa MoshfeghÂ as a talent to look out for.â€ť â€”Bustle
â€śIf Shirley Jackson and Mary Gaitskill had a literary daughter, it might be Ottessa Moshfegh, whose unnerving debut is sure to garÂner attention.â€ť â€“ Bookpage
â€śEnormously entertaining and funny . . . A beautiful novel that tells the truth.â€ť â€”Bookforum
â€śLiterary psychological suspense at its best.â€ťâ€”Booklist (starred review)
â€śA woman recalls her mysterious escape from home in this taut, controlled noir about broken families and their proximity to violenceâ€¦. The narrative masterfully tauntsâ€¦. The release, when it comes, registers a genuine shock. And Moshfegh has such a fine command of language and her character that you can miss just how inside out Eileen’s life becomes in the course of the novel, the way the “loud, rabid inner circuitry of my mind” overtakes her. Is she inhumane or self-empowered? Deeply unreliable or justifiably jaded? Moshfegh keeps all options on the tableâ€¦. A shadowy and superbly told story of how inner turmoil morphs into outer chaos.â€ť â€”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Iâ€™ll never forget that bright jangle of the bell over theÂ liquor store door, since it rang for me nearly everyÂ evening. Lardnerâ€™s Liquors. I loved that store. It wasÂ warm and orderly in there, and I wandered the aislesÂ for as long as I could, pretending to browse. I knew,Â of course, where the gin was kept: Center aisle onÂ the right if youâ€™re facing the cashier, a few feet fromÂ the back wall, and just two shelvesÂ of it, Beefeater on top and Seagramâ€™sÂ below it. Mr. Lewis who workedÂ there was so gentle and happy, asÂ though it had never occurred to himÂ just what all that liquor was for. I gotÂ the gin, paid, and went back to theÂ car, laid the bottles on the passengerâ€™sÂ seat. How odd it is that liquorÂ never freezes. It was the one thingÂ in that place that simply refused theÂ cold. I shivered in the Dodge, turnedÂ the key, and drove home. I took theÂ long and scenic route as the darknessÂ fell, I remember.
My father was in his chair when I got home.Â Nothing special happened that night. Itâ€™s just a placeÂ to begin. I set the bottles down within his reach onÂ the floor and crumpled the paper bag in my fist asÂ I walked up to the attic. I read my magazine. I wentÂ to bed.
So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop.Â Now you know me. I was twentyfourÂ years old then, and had a jobÂ that paid fifty-seven dollars a weekÂ as a kind of secretary at a private juvenileÂ correctional facility for teenageÂ boys. I think of it now as whatÂ it really was for all intents and purposesâ€”a prison for boys. I will callÂ it Moorehead. Delvin MooreheadÂ was a terrible landlord I had yearsÂ later, and so to use his name forÂ such a place feels appropriate.
In a week, I would run awayÂ from home and never go back. ThisÂ is the story of how I disappeared.