LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION 2019
A New York Times 2019 Notable Book
2019 BOOK OF THE YEAR: Oprah Magazine, Time, Vulture, and Entertainment Weekly
'The Need is a profound meditation on the nature of reality, a fearless examination of parenthood, and also somehow a thriller. This is an extraordinary and dazzlingly original work from one of our most gifted and interesting writers' Emily St. John Mandel
She crouched in front of the mirror in the dark, clinging to them. The baby in her right arm, the child in her left.
There were footsteps in the other room...
Molly is exhausted, anxious, losing her grip on reality. Her husband is away and she is running between her children and her job, where things are unravelling. She’s a paleobotanist, working at a fossil quarry, and has recently unearthed artefacts that defy understanding; the coke bottle with the lettering that leans the wrong way, an alternate version of the Bible. Where do these things come from?
At home, as dusk falls, she gets jumpy. Are those footsteps out in the hall? What was that noise? She holds her two small children close to her, and tries to pull herself together. But her worlds of work and home are about to collide. She discovers that the stranger in her sitting room knows everything about her life and, as their identity becomes chillingly clear, this intruder makes a demand of Molly that upends everything, forcing her to reckon with her most unspeakable fears.
The Need is a gripping, unsettling and stunningly original story that probes deep truths about motherhood, and explores grief, loss and how we treat others. It's a compulsive, reality-warping novel that makes us rethink our world, and question how far we would go to protect the ones we love.
'The atmosphere is as close and taut as a thriller, but this is, in fact, both a highly original examination of grief and an extraordinarily vivid evocation of motherhood -- the moments of terror and hilarity, the visceral burden of it, and the fleeting, but almost transcendent, joy' Daily Mail
'A chilling novel from a blazing talent' Observer
A chilling novel from a blazing talent...in addition to being a cerebral meditation on motherhood at its most elemental – fierce, beatific, sanity-thieving – it’s an adroitly executed thriller with a quasi-sci-fi twist. Mercilessly tense throughout, its opening chapter is a belter... A bracingly singular achievement, it’s surreal, blackly comic and ultimately generous.
[A] frenzied fever dream of a novel. Read it as a sci-fi thriller, or understand it instead as metaphorical; either way, it’s a page-turner… magnificent... This is a smart, sharp book that cuts to the heart of what it’s like to be a mother
Phillips can conjure pure nightmare in a single sentence… Thrillingly disturbing, frighteningly insightful about motherhood and love, and spilling over with offhand invention, The Need is one of this year’s most necessary novels.
The atmosphere is as close and taut as a thriller, but this is, in fact, both a highly original examination of grief and an extraordinarily vivid evocation of motherhood -- the moments of terror and hilarity, the visceral burden of it, and the fleeting, but almost transcendent, joy
Helen Phillips’s novel begins to reveal itself, veering away from what looks initially like conventional suspense into something more speculative and philosophical with nods to both sci-fi and horror...
the what-ifs animate this novel, the narrative splitting and looping back on itself as it tries out parallel possibilities, various fantasies and nightmares... frightening and maddening and full of dark comedy.. Phillips, as careful with language as she is bold with structure, captures many small sharp truths