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The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty

A Novel

Amanda Filipacchi (Author)

Overview | Formats

"A sure comic touch . . . smart and sweet . . . a tribute to the pleasures of friendship." —The New Yorker

In the heart of New York City, a group of artistic friends struggles with society's standards of beauty. At the center are Barb and Lily, two women at opposite ends of the beauty spectrum, but with the same problem: each fears she will never find a love that can overcome her looks. Barb, a stunningly beautiful costume designer, makes herself ugly in hopes of finding true love. Meanwhile, her friend Lily, a brilliantly talented but plain-looking musician, goes to fantastic lengths to attract the man who has rejected her—with results that are as touching as they are transformative.

To complicate matters, Barb and Lily discover that they may have a murderer in their midst, that Barb’s calm disposition is more dangerously provocative than her beauty ever was, and that Lily's musical talents are more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Part literary whodunit, part surrealist farce, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty is a smart, modern-day fairy tale. With biting wit and offbeat charm, Amanda Filipacchi illuminates the labyrinthine relationship between beauty, desire, and identity, asking at every turn: what does it truly mean to allow oneself to be seen?

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • February 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35230-6
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 336 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Funny, surreal, absurd and charmingly preposterous.” — Sarah Lyall, New York Times Book Review

“The funniest novelist you’ve never heard of. . . .  Few comic novelists get characters talking so naturally, and amusingly.” — John Freeman, Boston Globe

“Readers who’d like to spend a little time at the corner where a brisker Haruki Murakami meets a drier ‘30 Rock’ would do well to seek out Filipacchi’s radiantly intelligent and very funny novel.” — Ellis Avery, San Francisco Chronicle

“A surreal and utterly compelling triumph.” — Buzzfeed

“[A] farcical novel . . . riveting to read.” — Nathan Reese, New York Times T Magazine

“[A] zanily satirical, spot-on novel.” — Leigh Haber, O, The Oprah Magazine

“Magic spills from the pores of Filipacchi’s story. . . .  The resulting romp is a witty and honest rendering of the unknowable distance between perception and reality, exploring the possibility that beauty is literally in the eyes of the beholder.” — Alexandra Coakley, Slate

“A delight for the mind that penetrates the heart.” — Walter Kirn

“Amanda Filipacchi writes with a deceptive ease, creating magic out of thin air. She makes the ordinary come alive with possibility and stuffs her pages full of laughter, sadness and characters that are unforgettable.” — Neil La Bute

“A seductively powerful fable about the ugly powers of beauty, the redemptive powers of creativity, and the nature of true love. Every page abounds in mystery, delight and surprise.” — Sheila Heti

“The best comic novelist writing today.” — Ed Park

“A delightful gem, an unusual mixture of laughter and suspense.” — Jonathan Ames

“Takes a fairy tale, flips it on its head, and adds an element of murder . . . will both make you laugh and keep you on the edge of your seat.” — Lynsey Eidell, Glamour

“Loopily entertaining.” — Joanna Scutts, Washington Post

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