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Hardcover Edition

Now in paperback from W. W. Norton

A witty feminist fable that examines the thrills and pitfalls of beauty from the perspective of two polar opposites: Barb, an attractive and talented costume designer who, in hopes of finding true love, makes herself ugly via an elaborate costume; and Lily, an unfortunate-looking composer who uses her magical musical gift to make herself irresistible to the man who has rejected her. To complicate matters, Barb and Lily discover their close-knit circle of friends includes a murderer with a plan to strike again. Set in modern-day New York City, it’s a novel that satirizes society’s obsession with beauty and its “unfortunate importance” in the aspects of life that should be least superficial: friendship and love. With biting wit and offbeat charm, Filipacchi illuminates the labyrinthine relationship between beauty, desire, and identity, asking at every turn: what does it truly mean to allow oneself to be seen?


“Filipacchi’s book [has] a philosophical heft and prods us to examine our own prejudices…. Funny, surreal, absurd, and charmingly preposterous…. Filipacchi’s characters never question the weirdness around them but meet it with a delightful, practical ingenuity.”
The New York Times Book Review

“[A] sure comic touch… smart and sweet… a tribute to the pleasures of friendship.”
The New Yorker

“At the corner where a brisker Haruki Murakami meets a drier “30 Rock” [readers] would do well to seek out Filipacchi’s radiantly intelligent and very funny novel.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Few comic novelists get characters talking so naturally, and amusingly…. There is a high art in this kind of ungentle entertainment, and in ‘The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty’ Amanda Filipacchi proves she hasn’t lost her touch, not even a little.”
The Boston Globe

“A surreal and utterly compelling triumph.”

“Magic spills from the pores of Filipacchi’s story… a witty and honest rendering of the unknowable distance between perception and reality… I found myself turning pages in time to the book’s thriller pace.”

“Filipacchi’s novel is breezy with a bite.”
Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air, NPR

“[A] darkly humorous modern fairy tale.”
Huffington Post

“An astute, piercing look at the value society and individuals place on appearance… impossible to put down and utterly dead-on in its assessment of human nature.”
Booklist (Starred Review)

“Will both make you laugh and keep you on the edge of your seat.”

“Filipacchi’s novel — which is brilliant and original — mixes all the elements of an amazing story, with the perfect language to tell it. You want to read this book.”

“A funny and exuberant story that addresses the costs of a social preoccupation while losing none of its fairy-tale charm.”
Shelf Awareness

“Filipacchi’s fourth novel blithely upends the social constructs of beauty, desire, and art in her signature brisk, darkly comic style…with sharp surreal turns and layers of subversive meaning… While looks can kill, they’re no match for Filipacchi’s rapier wit.”
Publishers Weekly

“An ingeniously crafted fictional meditation on power and freedom, essence and appearance that takes the form of a philosophical farce. A delight for the mind that penetrates the heart.”
—Walter Kirn

“Amanda Filipacchi writes with a deceptive ease, creating magic out of thin air. She makes the ordinary come alive with possibility and stuffs her pages full of laughter, sadness and characters that are unforgettable… Filipacchi is one of our best satirists.”
—Neil LaBute

“Amanda Filipacchi is one of the most original storytelling minds I know. Here, she has written a seductively powerful fable about the ugly powers of beauty, the redemptive powers of creativity, and the nature of true love. Every page abounds in mystery, delight and surprise.”
—Sheila Heti

“Amanda Filipacchi’s untamed imagination makes the world a little more fun to live in. This witty novel shines a blacklight on beauty, to reveal its dark side, and the author’s irrepressibly zany one.”
—Roxana Robinson

“Amanda Filipacchi has crafted a delightful gem, an unusual mixture of laughter and suspense. One never knows what’s going to happen next in this odd and charming universe. This is a wonderfully absurd and comedic novel that also reads like a page-turning whodunit.”
—Jonathan Ames

“The best comic novelist writing today.”
—Ed Park


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