Woman of Interest: A Memoir (Hardcover)

Woman of Interest: A Memoir By Tracy O'Neill Cover Image
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A National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honoree delivers her first work of nonfiction: a compulsively readable, genre-bending story of finding her missing birth mother and, along the way, learning the priceless power of self-knowledge.

In 2020, Tracy O’Neill began to rethink her ideas of comfort and safety. Just out of a ten-year relationship and thirtysomething, she was driven by an acute awareness that the mysterious mother she’d never met might be dying somewhere in South Korea.

After contacting a grizzled private investigator, O’Neill took his suggested homework to heart when he disappeared before the job was done, picking up the trail of clues and becoming her own hell-bent detective. Despite COVID-19, the promise of what she might discover—the possibility that her biological mother was her kind of outlaw, whose life could inspire her own—was too tempting.

Written like a mystery novel, Woman of Interest is a tale of self-discovery and fugitivity from convention that features a femme fatale of unique proportions, a former CIA operative with a criminal record, and a dogged investigator of radical connections outside the nuclear family. O’Neill gorgeously bends the detective genre to her own will as a writer, stepping out of the shadows of her own self-conception to illuminate the hopes of the woman of interest she is both chasing and becoming.

About the Author

Tracy O’Neill is the author of the novels The Hopeful and Quotients. In 2015, she was named a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and was a Narrative Under 30 finalist. In 2012, she was named a Center for Fiction’s Emerging Writers Fellow. O’Neill teaches at Vassar College, and her writing has appeared in Granta, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Bookforum, and other publications. She holds an MFA from the City College of New York and an MA, an MPhil, and a PhD from Columbia University.

Praise For…

"Woman of Interest is a memoir wrapped in a mystery—an inward examination of family, identity, and self, but also an actual gumshoe detective story that takes the author to the other side of the world. With each extraordinary, prickly sentence, O’Neill’s search for her biological mother is conjured with clarity and conflict. This is a work that is funny, moving, mean—an exceptional book from an extraordinary writer." — Kevin Nguyen, author of New Waves

"Woman of Interest is a brilliantly constructed Russian doll of a memoir—a profound meditation on language and desire within an insightful family mythology within a propulsive detective story. How does Tracy O’Neill hold it all together? With a rare combination of exquisite prose, good humor, and intellectual rigor." — Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks

"Know this: Tracy O’Neill has a novelist’s sense of narrative, the eye and ear of a poet, and the luminous mind of young philosopher—gifts woven into an innovative, propulsive, and trenchant memoir about the search for self and one’s roots as well as the evolution of family myths. This book, as is Tracy, is an exemplar of literary brilliance." — Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math

"With Woman of Interest, Tracy O’Neill solidifies her status as one of our greatest living prose stylists. With a singular wit and brilliance, O’Neill expands the horizons of the memoir, pushing the boundaries of the genre into the realm of detective noir and thrilling quest narrative. O’Neill’s formal innovations and bracing prose create a new and invigorating lens through which readers can view a universal theme: the desire to search for the self and one’s source." — Chloé Cooper Jones, author of Easy Beauty

"A funny, effervescent addition to the memoir-as-detective-story genre." — Nicole Chung, Esquire

"Resembles what experimental jazz would be like if it were a written narrative. Funny, shocking, and emotionally charged, the memoir takes readers on [O'Neill's] journey of self-discovery and finding what family means." — Library Journal

"Cool, noir-tinted prose shot through with wit and compassion, O’Neill presents her inquiry as a sort of metaphysical detective story. Readers will be riveted." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063309869
ISBN-10: 0063309866
Publisher: HarperOne
Publication Date: June 25th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English