Benefit


320 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $17.99
ISBN: 9781942658993


Ebook

ISBN: 9781954276000




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“A smart, razor-sharp exploration of the precarious island of academic life and the cold unforgiving waters that surround it.”

Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation and Weather

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“A compelling novel about friendship, education, and purpose, all illustrated through a cast of flawlessly realized characters.”

Susan Perabo, author of Why They Run the Way They Do and The Fall of Lisa Bellow

“Siobhan Phillips’s portrait of a stalled would-be academic is thrillingly intimate and ambitious in its scope, evoking at turns Rachel Cusk, Lynn Steger Strong’s Want, and Christine Smallwood’s The Life of the Mind. Deadpan and dread-filled, shadowed by the specters of war and late capitalism, Benefit probes both the futility and necessity of intellectual work, all in the wry, wise voice of an uncommonly clear-eyed friend.”

Jessica Winter, author of Break in Case of Emergency and The Fourth Child

Benefit is a fascinating novel—both a portrait of an industrial empire and revelatory about the elitist greed that often shadows philanthropy. It is also an unnerving glimpse into the impoverishment of academia, as scholars compete for part-time work and paltry salaries.”

Foreword Reviews

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“Phillips’s assured debut novel blends a complex journey of personal realizations with insights into the dark side of ambition and power.”

Booklist

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“Incisive. . . . Pulls back the veil on university hierarchies and social privilege.”

Publishers Weekly

“Highlight[s] the toxicity and ethical gaps that underlie much of modern academia and philanthropy . . . with striking social commentary.”

Kirkus Reviews

Benefit is a playful, inventive, and urbane coming-of-almost-middle-age novel that reveals Phillips’ acute eye for understanding insincerity and facetiousness in elite spaces.”

Sophia Hardin, Third Place Books Ravenna (Seattle, WA)

Laura, a student from a modest background, escapes her small town to join the ranks of the academic elite on a Weatherfield fellowship to study at Oxford University. She enthusiastically throws herself into her coursework, yet she is never able to escape a feeling of unease and dislocation among her fellow chosen “students of promise and ambition.”

Years later, back in the United States with a PhD and dissertation on Henry James, she loses her job as an adjunct professor and reconnects with the Weatherfield Foundation. Commissioned to write a history for its centennial, she becomes obsessed by the Gilded Age origins of the Weatherfield fortune, rooted in the exploitation and misery of sugar production. As she is lured back into abandoned friendships within the glimmering group, she discovers hidden aspects of herself and others that point the way to a terrifying freedom.

Benefit is a vivid debut novel of personal awakening that offers a withering critique of toxic philanthropy and the American meritocracy.

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Excerpt from Benefit



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Watch Siobhan Phillips in conversation about her debut novel Benefit in the Charis Circle reading series and read an interview with her at Book Q&As.