Having and Being Had

Eula Biss


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30 March 2023
ISBN: 9780571346431
336 pages

From the publisher

‘A major achievement.’ CLAUDIA RANKINE
‘Endlessly absorbing.’ SINÉAD GLEESON
‘A probing tour of capitalism and class.’ MAGGIE NELSON
‘Exhilarating.’ JENNY OFFILL

A personal reckoning with the intricacies of money, class and capitalism from the New York Times bestselling author.

Having just purchased her first home, Eula Biss embarks on a roguish and risky self-audit of the value system she has bought into. The result is Having and Being Had: a radical interrogation of work, leisure and capitalism. Playfully ranging from IKEA to Beyoncé to Pokémon, across bars and laundromats and universities, she asks, of both herself and her class, ‘In what have we invested?

‘As a writer Eula Biss has two great gifts. The first is her ability to reveal to the reader what has, all along, been hidden in plain sight . . . Her other talent is for laying bare our submerged fears . . . In Having and Being Had, both gifts are on display . . . if you are not deeply discomfited by the time you finish reading On Having and Being Had, you have no conscience.’

‘Calls on the controlled rush of poetry and turns experience into art.’

‘Nuanced . . . Biss’ sentences have retained a poet’s precision.’

‘Eula Biss’s prescient new book gave me new language for things I didn’t know I felt . . . A brilliant, lacerating re-examination of our relationship to what we own and why, and who in turn might own us.’

‘No contemporary writer I know explores and confronts her own societal responsibilities better than Eula Biss.’

‘A meditation on race, consumerism and the American caste system. And a wry, vivd assessment of our spiritual moment. It is no accident that Having and Being Had reads like the poems money would write if money wrote poems.’