The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner


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If you’ve ever wondered where Kushner’s gutsy, full-throttle style comes from, this is your answer. In brutally honest and forthright prose—as if you’d expect anything less of her—Kushner divulges the upbringing (rife with independence and risk-ready behaviors) and instincts that we recognize in her enigmatic storytelling. We follow her lead as she waits tables in the Tenderloin or races down the Baja Peninsula on a motorcycle (illegally); and we peer over her shoulder as she visits refugee camps, her depictions of others as acutely observed as when she writes about herself. As with her fiction, her essays weave between personal and journalistic, both fearless.

– Miranda <3


From a writer celebrated for her “chops, ambition, and killer instinct” (John Powers, Fresh Air), a career-spanning collection of spectacular essays about politics and culture.

Rachel Kushner has established herself as “the most vital and interesting American novelist working today” (Michael Lindgren, The Millions) and as a master of the essay form. In The Hard Crowd, she gathers a selection of her writing from over the course of the last twenty years that addresses the most pressing political, artistic, and cultural issues of our times—and illuminates the themes and real-life terrain that underpin her fiction.

In nineteen razor-sharp essays, The Hard Crowd spans literary journalism, memoir, cultural criticism, and writing about art and literature, including pieces on Jeff Koons, Denis Johnson, and Marguerite Duras. Kushner takes us on a journey through a Palestinian refugee camp, an illegal motorcycle race down the Baja Peninsula, 1970s wildcat strikes in Fiat factories, her love of classic cars, and her young life in the music scene of her hometown, San Francisco. The closing, eponymous essay is her manifesto on nostalgia, doom, and writing.

These pieces, new and old, are electric, phosphorescently vivid, and wry, and they provide an opportunity to witness the evolution and range of one of our most dazzling and fearless writers. “Kushner writes with startling detail, imagination, and gallows humor,” said Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly, and, from Paula McLain in the Wall Street Journal: “The authority and precision of Kushner’s writing is impressive, but it’s the gorgeous ferocity that will stick with me.”

“[Kushner] seems to work with a muse and a nail gun, so surprisingly yet forcefully do her sentences pin reality to the page.” —Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine

“Kushner can really write. Her prose has a poise and wariness and moral graininess that puts you in mind of Robert Stone and Joan Didion.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner
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