“Dear Readers: This is one wild book! . . . No holds barred.” —Margaret Atwood via Twitter
“Mind-blowing. Equal parts brilliant and hilarious.” —Heather O’Neill, bestselling author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel and Lullabies for Little Criminals
From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny, a darkly funny novel about a theatre professor suffering chronic pain who, in the process of staging a troubled production of Shakespeare’s most maligned play, suddenly and miraculously recovers.
Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating, chronic pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theatre director. Determined to put on Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the play that promised—and cost—her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hell-bent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers.
That’s when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda’s past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what’s coming to them, and the invisible, doubted pain that’s kept her from the spotlight is made known.
With prose Margaret Atwood has described via Twitter as “no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged . . . genius,” Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All’s Well is the story of a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain.
About the author
MONA AWAD is the author of Bunny and 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize that won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, the Colorado Book Award, and an Honorable Mention from the Arab American Book Awards. It was also longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award and the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. The recipient of an MFA in Fiction from Brown University and a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Denver, she has published work in TIME, VICE, The New York Times Magazine, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Boston.
NOW Magazine’s “14 best books to read in summer 2021.”
Vulture’s “Most anticipated books of 2021”
Bustle's "Most anticipated books of August 2021"
CBC's "29 Canadian books we can't wait to read in August"
Entertainment Weekly's "Best new books to read in August"
CBC's "65 Canadian works of fiction to watch for in fall 2021"
Quill & Quire's "2021 Best of Fall guide"
Praise for All's Well:
“Dear Readers: This is one wild book! . . . No holds barred.”
—Margaret Atwood via Twitter
“A dazzling wild ride of a novel—daring, fresh, entertaining, and magical. Mona Awad is a powerful and poetic storyteller, telling us something new and profound here about the connection between suffering and elation. When I was away from this book, I longed to get back to it.”
—George Saunders, Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo
“[In] All’s Well, Mona Awad takes her powerful spin on womanhood to a new level. . . as [the novel] progresses it’s clear Awad is continuing her dark exploration of the female psyche—and once again proving she’s a dab hand at championing contemporary female outsiders struggling in narratives beyond their control. . . . The best descriptor might be to imagine Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter traipsing through the dreamy creepiness of fairy tales while giving Shakespeare tips on female narratives.”
“[A] nightmarish, hair-raising, diabolically smart treatise on pain—particularly as experienced by women. The type of pain that is real, but invisible (and overlooked, ignored). That much of Miranda's story is based on Awad's experience with chronic pain makes this all the more harrowing to read. . . . Awad's writing isn't merely intoxicating. It's incandescent.”
?The Washington Post
“From the first sentence [of All’s Well], Miranda feels like a friend. As you follow her through her nightmare, you can’t help but root for her—in spite of her small-mindedness, her malice, her squirm-inducing behaviour. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cringe.”
—The Globe and Mail
“[A] surreal exploration of chronic pain, women's believability and visibility, and desperation that straddles the line between comedy and horror. . . . [W]here Bunny explored the dark side of universally human urge to belong, in All's Well, Awad directs her caustic commentary at a more pointed social problem: the refusal to acknowledge female pain.”
“Awad is particularly deft in describing the hellish nature of pain and the ways those living with chronic pain are often misled, dismissed, or derided. . . . Imbued with magic and Shakespearean themes, [All’s Well] swings wildly between tragedy and comedy and reality and unreality. . . . Awad artfully and acutely explores suffering, artistry, and the limitations of empathy. A strange, dramatic novel where all’s well, or not well, or perhaps both.”
“[All’s Well] is a darkly hilarious journey into the psyche of a woman approaching her breaking point.”
“Awad has a penchant for mixing dark humor and dark magic.”
?Los Angeles Times
“Mona Awad’s All’s Well is an incisive, brilliant, and grotesque portrait of a college theatre program. We are introduced to a wonderfully monstrous and self-pitying theatre professor whose students are in constant mutiny against her. Awad weaves the tales of All’s Well That Ends Well and Macbeth into her narrative with an almost shocking brilliance. This tale is tragic, macabre, and wicked, and I laughed out loud the whole way through. One of the funniest books I’ve read in years.”
—Heather O'Neill, bestselling author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel and Lullabies for Little Criminals
“For all my fellow right-thinking adoring readers of Bunny, another dark and insane gem from Mona Awad, full of scintillating insights on Shakespeare, pain, and the human condition.”
—Elif Batuman, Pulitzer Prize–shortlisted author of The Idiot
“Wild and exhilarating and so fresh it takes your breath away, All's Well is an utterly delicious novel of pain, Shakespeare, the uncanny, and our own subtle moral failures when we brush up against the anguish of others. Mona Awad's talent is so vital that it absolutely roars out of her.”
—Lauren Groff, bestselling author of Florida and Fates and Furies
“Oh my lord what a fabulous novel—knocked me out!”
—Mary Karr, author of The Liars’ Club
“Mona Awad proves in her dazzling, hilarious, wildly terrifying, virtuoso new novel, All’s Well, the paradoxes and incongruities of Shakespeare’s lesser-loved play makes an ideal springboard for contemporary fiction.”
—Christopher Bollen, author of A Beautiful Crime
“In this eerie and engrossing novel, Mona Awad deftly delivers a narrator as mesmerizing as she is unreliable. Miranda’s quest for her heart’s desires illuminates the complex bargains one woman dares to make in her most desperate moments. With its mordant humor and potent surreality, All’s Well is a gripping read, and Awad is a writer of great intensity and insight."
—Helen Phillips, author of The Need
“[A] dazzling, hilarious, wildly terrifying, virtuoso new novel. . . . Awad is a maestro at conjuring the feverish, calamitous voice of her protagonist, Miranda Fitch. . . . Awad is such a risk-taker, and so sure-footed with her narrative leaps and flights, that we willingly take the ride as our heroine descends—or does she ascend?—into a fearsome, monstrous, nearly incandescent state of being.”
“In her new novel, All’s Well, Mona Awad turns to Shakespeare and surrealism to tell a compelling story about suffering that reflects her own experience with 'unspeakable' chronic pain. . . .The result is a portrait of trauma that lingers, whether all ends well or not.”
“[A] sparkling valentine to the Bard. A dream of a novel, perfect for a midsummer night’s read.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“Awad is a dark genius, preternaturally gifted at creating vicious, hilarious tales about the depravity inside us.....A wicked mash-up about opioid addiction, Bard nerds, Faustian deals, and a cursed play? Yes, please.”
"Awad's writing isn't merely intoxicating. It's incandescent."
—The Washington Post
"A stealthily captivating new novel that, like its namesake, skews more dark than light as it casts its spell."
—The Boston Globe
“Thrilling…Awad has taken Shakespeare’s premise of illness and spiritual rebirth and turned it into an inventive horror-comedy full of altered realities and uncanny weirdness.”
—The Seattle Times
“As in Awad’s last novel Bunny, things start off weird and institutional and then spiral into madness, and as in Bunny, the experience is a fiendish delight: funny, thrilling, and creepily recognizable.”
“A brilliant noir comedy about art and illness…. Awad’s characters are deliciously over the top and impossible to forget, as is the author's gift for morbid humor…. Endlessly thought-provoking and not to be missed.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“There’s both pathos and humor in this story of how we suffer and the ways in which we’re healed.”
“Always compelling. Cheerfully vicious, hilariously hallucinogenic, mixing up scruffy vernacular realism with grotesque, gothic supernaturalism, All’s Well treats the serious subject of women’s pain with dark, cutting humour. . . . Drawing on her own experience, Awad pulls off an angry, incisive critique of a culture that distrusts and denies the experience of pain, especially female pain.”
—Winnipeg Free Press