A novel by Hilary Leichter
March 3, 2020 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 208 pages • 978-1-56689-566-8
Eighteen boyfriends, twenty-three jobs, and one ghost who occasionally pops in to give advice: Temporary casts a hilarious and tender eye toward the struggle for happiness under late capitalism.
In Temporary, a young woman’s workplace is the size of the world. She fills increasingly bizarre placements in search of steadiness, connection, and something, at last, to call her own. Whether it’s shining an endless closet of shoes, swabbing the deck of a pirate ship, assisting an assassin, or filling in for the Chairman of the Board, for the mythical Temporary, “there is nothing more personal than doing your job.”
This riveting quest, at once hilarious and profound, will resonate with anyone who has ever done their best at work, even when the work is only temporary.
About the Author
Hilary Leichter’s writing has appeared in n+1, the New Yorker, the Cut, the Southern Review, and elsewhere. She has taught fiction at Columbia University and has been awarded fellowships from the Folger Shakespeare Library and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Praise for Temporary
Bustle Must-Read Books of 2020
“Leichter’s funny, absurdist debut cleverly explores a capitalist society taken to a dreamlike extreme…her cutting, hilarious critique of the American dream will appeal to fans of Italo Calvino.” —Publisher's Weekly, starred review
“A young temp searches for permanence in Leichter’s whimsically surreal fable of late-stage capitalism. . . . clever and strange and, in the end, unexpectedly hopeful, less a biting gig-economy satire than a wistful 21st-century myth. A dreamy meditation on how we construct who we are.” —Kirkus
“A well executed absurdist novel explores what it feels like to live in a world in which jobs, relationships, and homes increasingly are temporary and in which capitalist imperatives crowd out moral values.” —World Wide Work
“A Calvino-esque critique of the American Dream, in which the main character takes on ever-stranger job placements, from work on a pirate ship to sitting on the board of a corporation to shining an endless closet of shoes. We could honestly use a little absurdist humor in the face of late-capitalism's ubiquitous predations. ”—Literary Hub
“A narrative so deliciously allusive and disarmingly literal that this reader kept thinking maximum glee had been attained, only for the glee to somehow grow even more maximal just a few sentences later.” —Helen Oyeyemi
“Temporary took me by storm. Each short chapter is a wallop of topsy-turvy wisdom and humor, and together they build a strange and sparkling universe. The novel is about work and identity and the masks we wear, but it’s also about our weird little human hearts and what they can bear. I am a Hilary Leichter superfan.”—Ramona Ausubel
“In Temporary, the quest for gainful employment is epic; operatic; deliciously, sunnily, terrifyingly entertaining. Hilary Leichter is a conjurer of rare talent.” —Kelly Link
“This clever book! I don’t know how Hilary Leichter worked this bit of sly magic, but she waved a wand and created the perfect parable for our perilous gig economy. This hilarious, sad book about work and worth is what everyone needs to read right now.” —Amber Sparks
“A profound, devastating, and unforgettable book of wonders. Devour Temporary in one sitting so you can join the feverish club of people who love this book!” —Xuan Juliana Wang
“Temporary is a demented, de-tuned love song for the working life. Hilary Leichter possesses the brute force of language and imagination to create ultra-vivid worlds, suffused with an eerie weirdo beauty. It is Leichter’s brilliance that these invented worlds reflect so directly, blindingly, on the secret, mythical workings of our own.” —Ben Marcus
“A weird, punny, hysterical, hard and soft-hitting collection of laughs, tears, and thought-provoking entertainment. Temporary will be one of the best books you read next year.” —Paperback Paris