Terrace Story: A Novel (Hardcover)
September 2023 Indie Next List
“This novel blew me away. Each successive story opens up the world a bit further, digs a bit deeper, much like the space-building theme at the collection’s center. I loved these four fables and their exploration of endings and beginnings.”
— Santiago Nocera, Greedy Reads, Baltimore, MD
From the author of the acclaimed novel Temporary, an intimate exploration of time, a fable about love, an epic daydream for a broken-hearted world
Annie, Edward, and their young daughter, Rose, live in a cramped apartment. One night, without warning, they find a beautiful terrace hidden in their closet. It wasn’t there before, and it seems to only appear when their friend Stephanie visits. A city dweller’s dream come true! But every extra bit of space has a hidden cost, and the terrace sets off a seismic chain of events, forever changing the shape of their tiny home, and the shape of the world.
Terrace Story follows the characters who suffer these repercussions and reverberations: the little family of three, their future now deeply uncertain, and those who orbit their fragile universe. The distance and love between these characters expands limitlessly, across generations. How far can the mind travel when it’s looking for something that is gone? Where do we put our loneliness, longing, and desire? What do we do with the emotions that seem to stretch beyond the body, beyond the boundaries of life and death?
Based on the National Magazine Award–winning story, Hilary Leichter’s profound second novel asks how we nurture love when death looms over every moment. From one of our most innovative and daring writers, Terrace Story is an astounding meditation on loss, a reverie about extinction, and a map for where to go next.
Hilary Leichter is the author of Temporary, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, the New Yorker, and the New York Times. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“Prepare to be astonished. Like the magical terrace of its title, Hilary Leichter’s spectacular second novel contains the whole world. Told with boundless imagination, wisdom, and effortlessly gorgeous prose, Terrace Story will transform your understanding of time, space, memory, love, longing, and family and make you see your life anew. This book is a wonder.” — Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers
“Hilary Leichter, one of our most original novelists, amazes us again with a beautifully unclassifiable novel. Step out onto the terrace, where space and time, cause and effect, and fiction and reality have been redefined and gorgeously subverted. Terrace Story isn’t a novel you merely read; it’s a book you inhabit.” — Hernan Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Trust
"Truly brilliant and profound. There's magic between these covers. Leichter is the master of creating a mood and a world that is both breezy and earth-shattering. I felt changed by this book. Every page is revelatory and left me happily breathless, and the story broke my heart in the best way. I thank the literary heavens for Terrace Story." — Diane Cook, Booker shortlisted author of The New Wilderness
“Terrace Story is brilliantly inventive, enchanting, disturbing, beautiful, and unlike anything I’ve ever read. I loved what it does with time—gone and not gone, lost and found where we never put it. Really extraordinary.” — Joan Silber, author of Secrets of Happiness and Improvement
"At the book's heart are the relatable grief and terror that go along with love—of our planet, of another—and the threat of losing it...Leichter bends minds—and physics—to give a light touch to deep grief." — Kirkus Reviews
"...A sprawling, gutting romance...Terrace Story’s metaphysical turns are undergirded by intense, emotional precision...We may well outgrow one another the way we outgrow our house, our home, and even our planet. That’s a difficult truth to swallow. Perhaps we can only see it clearly piece by piece, story by story, over a lifetime. That is the pleasure and heartbreak of reading Leichter’s work: the knowledge that sometimes stories have no beginning or end." — BOMB Magazine
“[D]elightful . . . . deeply satisfying. Leichter soars with this cogent yet dreamlike tale.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Terrace Story is fun and profound, fickle and erudite. It is an irresistibly cool book.” — Booklist
"An intelligent and sneakily moving book, perfect for afternoons when you wish you were nowhere other than where you are." — Literary Hub
“The speculative novel is an inventive, wonky meditation on belonging and loneliness, grief and loss that both puzzles the mind and pierces the heart. . . . Terrace Story is an impressive literary feat.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Part of the pleasure of reading Terrace Story is figuring out how its peculiar architecture works. . . . Above all, Leichter is interested in the bewitched space of narrative itself. The fable, with tidy generic conventions but stretchy moral lessons, performs a kind of magic on the novel, giving a slim work legend-like scope.”
— New Yorker
"Terrace Story is about dread and loss and the frustrations of finitude, yet its tone is comic and buoyant, almost obstinately optimistic. Ms. Leichter delights in banter and inside jokes, and she finds absurdity, even when it has a dark, Kafkaesque flavor, unfailingly affecting. 'It was love, to recognize the inventions and inconsistencies that make a person whole,' she writes, and it’s love for the mess of humankind that makes this marvelously motley novel so poignant." — Wall Street Journal
“Terrace Story is deeply influenced by the shape and feel of the classic fairy tale, shimmering with the kind of simple language and visceral imagery of a Grimm yarn.. . . . This slender volume, which comes in at just under 200 pages, keeps cozy, heart-wrenching company with the philosophical fiction of Emily St. John Mandel and the rigorous, fantastical imagination of Ted Chiang.” — Washington Post
“Poignant and concise . . . . Even without the Marvel-like theatrics of ‘Everything Everywhere,’ Leichter’s fiction leaves you similarly dizzy with longing — for the versions of yourself now beyond reach, for the people you imagined beside you who are no longer.”
— New York Times Book Review
“Terrace Story is funny and sad, tremendous and profound, beautiful and honest even or especially when Leichter is leading us down the strange paths of her brilliant imagination.” — Rumpus