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Banal Nightmare: A Novel (Hardcover)

Banal Nightmare: A Novel By Halle Butler Cover Image
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A “vividly, chillingly current” (The Washington Post) novel by the author of The New Me, one of the boldest voices in American fiction

“So searingly precise in [its] ability to capture a certain moment or experience that you have to stop every few pages to send another perfect quote to your group chat.”—The New York Times

“So funny, so smart, utterly vicious—just brilliant.”—Zadie Smith

“Butler has crafted a novel in which every character proves to be completely, uniquely crazy. Her perverse sense of humor should be studied and celebrated.”—David Sedaris

Margaret Anne “Moddie” Yance had just returned to her native land in the Midwestern town of X, to mingle with the friends of her youth, to get back in touch with her roots, and to recover from a stressful decade of living in the city in a small apartment with a man she now believed to be a megalomaniac or perhaps a covert narcissist.

So begins Halle Butler’s sadistically precise and hilarious Banal Nightmare, which follows Moddie as she abruptly ends her long-term relationship and moves back to her hometown, throwing herself at the mercy of her old friends as they, all suddenly tipping toward middle age, go to parties, size each other up, obsess over past slights, dream of wild triumphs, and indulge in elaborate revenge fantasies. When her friend Pam invites a mysterious East Coast artist to take up a winter residency at the local university, Moddie has no choice but to confront the demons of her past and grapple with the reality of what her life has become. As the day of reckoning approaches, friends will become enemies, enemies will become mortal enemies, and old loyalties will be tested to their extreme.

Banal Nightmare is filled with complicated characters who will dazzle you in their rendering just as often as they will infuriate you with their decisions. Halle Butler singularly captures the volatile, angry, aggrieved, surreal, and entirely disorienting atmosphere of the modern era.

About the Author

Halle Butler’s first novel, Jillian, was called the “feel-bad book of the year” by the Chicago Tribune. Her second novel, The New Me, was named a Best Book of the Decade by Vox and a Best Book of the Year by Vanity Fair, Vulture, the Chicago Tribune, Mashable, Bustle, and NPR, and the New Yorker called it a “definitive work of millennial literature.” She was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree.

Praise For…

“Halle Butler has crafted a novel in which every character proves to be completely, uniquely crazy. Her perverse sense of humor should be studied and celebrated.”—David Sedaris

“Halle Butler’s Banal Nightmare will end summer with a bang. It’s about turning thirty-seven and realizing you hate everybody you know. It’s also about trying to become an adult while living in—and through—this unregulated, neoliberal, late-capitalist version of the internet with which we are presently saddled. . . . So funny, so smart, utterly vicious—just brilliant.”—Zadie Smith
“In Butler’s world, everyone hates each other, every day is excruciating in its mundanity, every thought is the beginning of an Escherian journey round and round in hell, and somehow the whole thing is unbelievably funny. With the force of an episode of marijuana psychosis and the extreme detail of a hyperrealistic work of art, Banal Nightmare attempts transcendence through anxiety and dissociation, nailing a series of contemporary characters—better pray you’re not one of them—to the wall.”—Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror

“This is a masterpiece, Butler’s best book yet. It burns with a wild, unforgiving fire, making most other novels seem vague and ho-hum in comparison. No feeling is skipped over. No thought is simplified. No idea is dumbed down. Like a knife dancing through air, it’s a manic, nerve-wracking read, painful and so weirdly funny. I felt gripped by it from beginning to end. . . . An unapologetic, totally original, modern marvel.”—Rachel B. Glaser, author of Paulina & Fran

Banal Nightmare is a blistering assault on contemporary pieties about art and love, an epic Woolfian tapestry of perfect comic rants, terrifying panic attacks, and, most gratifying of all, sincere attempts at human connection. This is the best, most ambitious book yet by one of my favorite writers.”—Andrew Martin, author of Early Work

“Brilliantly observed and unsparing, Banal Nightmare is an exhilarating, often-hilarious kaleidoscopic inquiry into contemporary relationships. With the comprehensive social gaze of Balzac and the cold logic of Renata Adler, Halle Butler conjures a latticework structure of life, rage, dark humor, and incalculable grace.”—Patrick Cottrell, author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace

“Butler writes with a bee-sting-sharp sense of humor and irony, and nothing is sacred, not Hillary Clinton, not Ruth Bader Ginsburg, not Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before Congress. What’s most surprising is that this cooler-than-the-cool-kids novel actually has an emotional center that will make your pulse race. . . . A tart, irreverent rant of a novel that takes a sharp turn toward something more serious.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Daring readers will eagerly turn the page to see their own unspeakable thoughts exposed. . . . Butler . . . delivers an emotionally riveting account of modern adulthood through different states of failures.”Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593730355
ISBN-10: 0593730356
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: July 16th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English