Radio Iris reviewed by Deb Olin Unferth in the New York Times Book Review - an Editor’s Choice pick!
Radio Iris is the story of Iris Finch, a socially awkward daydreamer with a job as the receptionist/personal assistant to an eccentric and increasingly absent businessman.
When Iris is not sitting behind her desk waiting for the phone to ring, she makes occasional stabs at connection with the earth and the people around her through careful observation and insomniac daydreams, always more watcher than participant as she shuttles between her one-bedroom apartment and the office she inhabits so completely, yet has never quite understood.
Her world cracks open with the discovery of “the man next door.” Over the next few weeks or months (the passage of time is iffy for Iris), she takes it upon herself to learn everything she can about this stranger. But the closer she gets to him, the more troubling questions at the heart of her own life rise to the surface, questions like - Why does she keep having the same dream? Why is it that she and her brother don’t seem to have a single shared memory of their childhood? What is it her boss actually does? In the end, Iris is faced with a choice she never imagined, and a reality she never knew enough to dread.
“Working for a company that might be called Kafka Ballard & Dickinson, bearing a kind of sonic witness to a world of static, Iris likes to listen the way some like to watch. Searching for home, she’s the passenger of her own voice. Anne-Marie Kinney’s Radio Iris is a novel of unsettling humor and elusive terror, a piercing loneliness and the strangeness of the banal, and a hushed power that grows in volume before your ears.”
- Steve Erickson
“Radio Iris is a revelation, a whimsical, charming and beautifully observed novel about quotidian life. Anne-Marie Kinney’s Iris is a contemporary version of Calvino’s Marcovaldo, caught between the rich expression of her own humanity and the random demands of the workaday world.”
- T.C. Boyle
“Radio Iris brings new shimmer and depth to the word ‘sensory’ - Iris’s perceptions are both keen and open, so mysterious and grounded, and the book builds a narrative of mystery and longing with visceral, ringing precision.”
- Aimee Bender
“In Radio Iris, Anne-Marie Kinney, introduces us to Iris Finch, a young woman of a new lost and lonely generation. With prose as pitch perfect as the Buddy Holly songs Iris loves, Kinney draws us into a world both familiar and quotidian and unfathomable and harrowing.”
- Bruce Bauman