A “marvelous” (Lauren Groff) and “gentle, mysterious and profound” (Marina Abramović) novel about a woman who has come undone.
A student moves to the city to research Gothic nudes, renting an apartment from a painter, Agnes, who lives in another town with her husband. One day, Agnes arrives in the city and settles into the upstairs studio.
In their meetings on the stairs, in the studio, at the corner café, the kitchen at dawn, Agnes tells stories of her youth, her family, her marriage, and ideas for her art – which is always just about to be created. As the months pass, it becomes clear that Agnes might not have a place to return to. The student is increasingly aware of Agnes’s disintegration. Her stories are frenetic; her art scattered and unfinished, white paint on a white canvas.
What emerges is the menacing sense that every life is always at the edge of disaster, no matter its seeming stability. Alongside the research into human figures, the student is learning, from a cool distance, about the narrow divide between happiness and resentment, creativity and madness, contentment and chaos.
White on White is a sharp exploration of empathy and cruelty, and the stunning discovery of what it means to be truly vulnerable, and laid bare.
Lauren Groff is the author of six books of fiction, the most recent the novel MATRIX (September 2021). Her work has won The Story Prize, the ABA Indies’ Choice Award, and France’s Grand Prix de l’Héroïne, was a three time finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and twice for the Kirkus Prize, and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Prize, the Southern Book Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Prize.
She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.