Alphabetical Diaries (Hardcover)

Alphabetical Diaries By Sheila Heti Cover Image
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A thrilling confessional from the award-winning, beloved author of Pure Colour.

Sheila Heti kept a record of her thoughts over a ten-year period, then arranged the sentences from A to Z. Passionate and reflective, joyful and despairing, these are her alphabetical diaries.

About the Author

Sheila Heti is the author of eleven books, including the novels Pure Colour, Motherhood, and How Should a Person Be?, which New York deemed one of the "New Classics" of the twenty-first century. She was named one of the "New Vanguard" by the New York Times book critics, who, along with a dozen other magazines and newspapers, chose Motherhood as a top book of 2018. Her books have been translated into twenty-four languages. She lives in Toronto.

Praise For…

"I think Alphabetical Diaries by Sheila Heti is a future classic. A great concept executed perfectly."
—Zadie Smith, author of The Fraud

“Heti has definitely produced a deliberately weird experiment, but hearing it out loud transforms Alphabetical Diaries into a kind of spoken-word, longform poetry. [Kate Berlant] adds that extra pizazz, so you really get a window into the creative mind as it shifts quickly from moments of despair to lightbulbs of insight to incidents of sexual desire to the recollection of totally random literary facts.”
—Marshall Heyman, Vulture (Best New Audiobooks of 2024)

“The effects of Heti’s experiment are overwhelmingly many: variously delightful, strange, jarring (that’s the point), banal (that’s the point!), ecstatic, gut-wrenching, and almost always very funny—in Heti’s flip, exclamation-point-y and exclamation-point-worthy way . . . The rapture of reading Heti is feeling her rapture writing . . . And it’s a joy that spreads.”
—Vanessa Lily Chung, The Baffler

“Rich with intimacies and disclosures, these fragments show an artist searching for the right way to arrange her life.”
The New Yorker

“Brainy, provocative, and divulging . . . Heti has always dived deeper into herself than most, surfacing with immersive and intoxicating expositions.”
—Sophie Van Well Groeneveld, The Rumpus

“[Alphabetical Diaries is] a text best consumed in long sittings in order for its echoes and serendipities to register, but it’s exciting, too, to be reminded of just how much narrative oomph can be packed into that most basic building block of prose—the sentence . . . In embracing life’s randomness and so thoroughly disrupting the urge to impose, through prose, order and a sense of the evolving self, she ultimately reveals just how solid our innate characteristics are and how irrepressible narrative can be.”
— Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer

“Slick and oddly captivating . . . Thrilling, very funny, often filthy, and a surprisingly powerful weapon against loneliness . . . How it achieves all this has to do with the sentences themselves, but even more than that with the unlikelihood of their arrangement; it’s the sentences’ crackpot proximity to one another that makes them sing.”
—Claire Dederer, The Guardian

"I slipped to the other side of the Möbius strip and found myself in what felt like a direct encounter with a contradictory, ordinary person changing and remaining unchanged through the years . . . Alphabetical Diaries constantly drew me into its gravitational pull . . . Heti’s project as an artist: to be as open-hearted of a reader as she is as a writer, to go with her gratefully into this meeting of childlike wonder, existential dread, and that near-constant horniness."
—Catherine Lacey, Bookforum

“This new book—a collection of Heti’s personal diaries, written over the course of a decade, then alphabetized and sheared into hypnotic installments of funny, plaintive, and exhortative prose—shows us how people are. Reading it, one is struck by the awesome continuity of the human mind, the way we’re always turning over the same ideas and questions, but also our naked contradictions.”
—Jake Nevins, Interview

Alphabetical Diaries shows how a simple sorting technique helps Heti get at the truth of her own life . . . What emerges, across 26 chapters, is a portrait of a writer carving out her own definition of artistic integrity and truth.”
—Celine Nguyen, ArtReview

“Each book that Heti has written has pressed further into the possibilities of what fiction can be while staying grounded in the mining of the self . . . The genius of [Alphabetical Diaries] is in how broadly human and carefully constructed it also feels . . . Something elemental, true and human, begins to form. There’s a particular thrill in feeling like a new sense of narrative is accruing inside of you as well.”
—Lynn Steger Strong, Los Angeles Times

"I read Sheila Heti's Alphabetical Diaries slowly, over the course of about a month -- just a letter or two each morning with my coffee, before I began writing in my own journal. It was a lovely, warm, intimate reading experience, one I savored while it lasted, and missed when it was over. A beautiful, unusual book."
—Kristen Roupenian, author of You Know You Want this: "Cat Person" and Other Stories

“Through her acclaimed novels How Should a Person Be?, Motherhood and Pure Colour, Sheila Heti has blended the autobiographical and the fictitious in the pursuit of truth . . . [Alphabetical Diaries] conjures magic out of a wild exercise.”
—William Earl, Variety

“I found reading Alphabetical Diaries to be a profound experience . . . There is something of Anaïs Nin’s journals in Alphabetical Diaries, and of Iris Murdoch’s letters, and of Edna O’Brien’s memoirs. Something locked-in and bristling. Heti is wrestling openly with the things that matter.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review

“A profoundly unusual, experimental, yet engrossing work of not-quite-memoir . . . settling into the rhythm of Heti’s poetic observations gives way to a rich narrative reward.”
—Lauren Puckett-Pope, Elle

“The resulting book is exhilarating: both intimate and withholding, repetitive and generative, undeniably self-centred and yet moving beyond the self.”
—Anna Leszkiewicz, New Statesman

“The alphabetised sentences give the book momentum and entertaining accidents of language create intriguing micro-stories on every page . . . Readers who enjoy Heti’s fiction should be enthralled. The picture of a committed, inventive, sincere writer and the times she lives in, which emerges from this experiment, is fascinating.”
—Max Liu, iNews

“One of the freshest, funniest and most ingenious humans writing today . . . one of our best living authors.”
—Becca Rothfeld, The Washington Post

“Playful yet disciplined . . . [Heti] knows how to engage the mundane details of life with curiosity and thoughtfulness."
—Zeja Z. Copes, Booklist

[An] arresting literary experiment . . . What the book lacks in traditional narrative structure, Heti supplements with evocative snapshots of life, detailing broken love affairs, mediocre meals, and professional triumphs with the controlled chaos of a late-night thought spiral. She juxtaposes the mundane (‘My book will be done this year!’) and the profound (‘I wonder if I wanted to be a writer because nobody ever told me the truth’). The arcs of friendships and romantic relationships are sliced up and remixed, raising subtextual questions about the linearity of time and the nature of change.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“While it might be the repetition that immediately catches the eye, it's Heti’s lists’ slight differences that give them resonance: ‘But love can endure. But love is not enough.’ This mutability, likely true of most diaries--and most people's internal lives--is put on display here through the compression of time, which allows almost every sentence to read like a profound truth, only to have the next sentence complicate it. The emotive nature of Heti's precise language takes center stage . . . A thought-provoking experiment in self-reflection and prose, Alphabetical Diaries is perhaps Sheila Heti's most intimate and most universal book yet.
—Alice Martin, Shelf Awareness

"A book that is in many ways is an ode to the sentence; from the muscle of a single line to the power that comes with accrual. An immersive and hugely entertaining read."
—Sinéad Gleeson, author of Constellations

"Alphabetical Diaries is a testament to Heti’s artistic power. She gently leads the reader into new dimensions of language previously undiscovered. Beautiful and uncompromising."
—Marlowe Granados, author of Happy Hour

"I am drawn to Sheila Heti’s writing like a moth to a flame and Alphabetical Diaries is amongst the most affecting, exquisite books I’ve ever encountered. It is, simply put, utterly and startlingly good. Heti writes so creaturely, so bodily, that it feels like a whole new genre is being formed as we read."
—Kerri ní Dochartaigh author of Cacophony of Bone

"I'll read anything Sheila Heti writes."
—Lauren Oyler, author of Fake Accounts

"Readers will become familiar with a set of thematic preoccupations: anxieties about professional success, churning erotic aspirations and frustrations, self-deprecating confessions masking self-regard. Heti provides some genuine fun in her invitation to discover more conventional coherence by reconstructing a chronological version of events . . . An original form of self-exposure emerges as we see some of the author’s verbal habits laid bare."
—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374610784
ISBN-10: 0374610789
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: February 6th, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English