Two Hours

Alba Arikha


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4 April 2024
ISBN: 9781999798147
160 pages

From the publisher

‘Alba Arikha takes us magically into the very heart of a woman’s experiences—her loves, her art, her fears, and that brief, ecstatic moment that has watermarked her entire life.’—Edmund White

‘Arikha’s Major/Minor is in my view a small masterpiece, and with Two Hours I believe she is making something of similar stature.’—Rachel Cusk

‘Out of a seemingly casual array of swift vignettes, fleeting encounters, cityscapes caught on the fly, and sudden, bright shocks of emotion, Alba Arikha has constructed a radiant story of loss and love, entrapment and freedom, and the strange patterns of fate and desire that shape our lives. Every piece of her mosaic shimmers with acute observation, and the whole comes together to form a powerfully singular account of the universal struggle to live a life of integrity and meaning. It is a rare and fine accomplishment.’—James Lasdun

‘A beautifully written, lyrical and unflinching account of a woman’s life, from teenage love to maturity and motherhood.’—Vesna Goldsworthy

“Someone rang my husband. Your wife is not well, the person said. Your wife is not well.”

When Clara’s parents transplant her from Paris to New York at the age of sixteen, a fleeting encounter with a young man seems, for a brief period, to open up new possibilities. As she strives to fulfil her vocation as a writer, and as she struggles in later years with the cumulative constraints of an unhappy marriage, Clara’s imagination is strangely haunted by a life that might have been.

Tracing Clara’s story from her adolescence to her experience of motherhood, and then through to a pivotal bid for freedom, Two Hours is an exceptional novel. Witty, perceptive, and profoundly humane, this is the work of a writer at the height of her powers.