Professor Daphne Merkin Publishes New Novel, '22 Minutes of Unconditional Love'
BY Nicole Saldarriaga, November 23, 2020
The novel follows main character Judith Stone as she sinks into and eventually attempts to break free from sexual obsession and control. Narrated before the #MeToo movement, 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love explores Judith's "psychological descent into sexual captivity" as she enters into a relationship with a man who is "intent on obliterating any sense of self she possesses," and the struggle she goes through to regain her autonomy. Read an excerpt here.
Adrienne Brodeur of The New York Times Book Review called 22 Minutes "an arresting novel that explores the alchemy of contradictions that exist in all great works of literature. Observant and witty, Merkin makes each sentence pack a provocative wallop." Booklist's review called the novel "a wily tale of carnal obsession...Merkin is at her sly and provocative best as her brainy, candid, and witty protagonist intermittently interrupts the erotic spell of her addiction to address the reader and question everything from gender roles to therapy to the very nature of fiction...Merkin's invisive novel of a woman piloting herself through the wildfire of sexual obsession is as boldly canny as it is cleverly diverting."
According to Kat Rosenfield of Tablet, "Merkin's novel is several things: a metafictional romance, a ballad of doomed eroticism, a snapshot of single womanhood in New York City whose trappings (pay phones, pantyhose) have been lost to the sands of time. But it is also an unsettling script-flipper in the vein of Hitchcock's voyeuristic thriller, slick and deftly seductive, inviting you to look over its shoulder into the depths of one woman's sexual obsession—only to find her staring back at you, accusatory and coy."
Daphne Merkin is the author of the novel Enchantment, which won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for best novel on a Jewish theme, as well as two collections of essays and a memoir, This Close to Happy. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, her essays frequently appear in The New York Times, Bookforum, The New Republic, Departures, ELLE, Travel + Leisure, Tablet, and many other publications. She lives in New York City.