Eileen by Ottessa Moshfeigh

“I felt like killing my father, but I didn’t want him to die.”

This is a novel you will remember. Deliciously dark, wickedly funny at the most unusual junctures, shocking at times, gloomy at length and startlingly smart, Moshfeigh takes us on a journey of a woman you won’t meet quite often. And even if you do, you will never guess what’s going on in her mundane, tedious, seemingly normal life.

Eileen detests herself. She is a misfit and invisible in her home town, which she flippantly(or grudgingly) calls X-Ville. She has a love-hate relationship with her alcoholic, ex-cop father, with whom she lives and takes care of (mostly buying the liquor he demands). She crushes over a handsome, spunky prison guard she can’t have. And is captivated by the red-headed, sophisticated, sweet-talking Rebecca, who sashays into her life and her morbid workplace.

Rebecca’s entry and the subsequent unfolding of events transforms this book into a psychological thriller. But, the language and those sentences — intricately crafted and masterfully executed made me stop reading and mark the pages and paras with a pencil. It’s a rarity to find a novel which on the surface is a thriller, but at the heart of it, a literary masterpiece.

Not to forget, the character development is top-notch. Without a shred of doubt Eileen and her father are the most developed, layered, honest and real of all the characters.

To sum it up, this self-hating, quick-witted, introverted young woman wants to live her town, her abusive father and her life behind. How does she do it? Does she succeed? More importantly, does Eileen end up liking herself? Read the book to find out.

In Hindsight…


  1. Eileen, Eileen and Eileen. Her well-etched character. Her quirks. Her journey from being an underdog to emerging as a self-assured young woman.
  2. The toxic, honest and disturbing relationship with her father.
  3. The lack of drama. Realistic setting. Dialogues. Subplots. Treatment.
  4. The luminous writing.


  1. The time taken to build suspense.
  2. Lack of enough plot twists to keep the reader glued.
Buy Eileen on amazon

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