On Books: 'Transit' By Rachel Cusk

May 4, 2017

Life is like a construction site that can never be finished. In Rachel Cusk's newest, bitingly funny novel Transit, this piece of worldly wisdom becomes literally true when its heroine returns to a familiar place to start over.

The new novel "Transit" by Canadian author Rachel Cusk.
Credit Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

After divorcing the father of her two sons, Faye – the narrator from Cusk's 2014 novel Outline – moves back to London, hoping to pick up where she left off. Without thinking it through, she buys a place that nobody else wants. Everyday renovations of the run-down house reveal new challenges. At the same time, Faye is trying to make sense of her personal life. She looks to others: Old friends and neighbors who seem to have it all figured out. Slowly, she realizes that the big revelations she has been waiting for are simply not coming.

What happens when everything you believed in falls apart? How do you rebuild your life from scratch? The twenty-first century is a construction project just like Faye's living situation in Transit: with everything constantly shifting and changing around us, we are desperately holding on to the smallest details in the hope for something that will provide us with stability. Cusk's novel is certainly not one of those to offer life advice à la "Get up and try again." Rather, it tells us to embrace the flaws and failures we encounter as a permanent state. And to accept that nothing is ever safe.