By Emily Hall
Publication Date: May 10, 2022
The narrator of The Longcut is an artist who doesn’t know what her art is. As she gets lost on her way to a meeting in an art gallery, walking around in circles in a city she knows perfectly well, she finds herself endlessly sidetracked and distracted by the question of what her work is and how she’ll know it when she sees it.
Her mental peregrinations take her through the elements that make up her life: her dull office job where she spends the day moving items into a “completed” column, insomniac nights in her so-called studio (also known as her tiny apartment), encounters with an enigmatic friend who may or may not know her better than she knows herself. But wherever she looks she finds only more questions—what is the difference between the world and the photographed world, why do objects wither in different contexts, what is Cambridge blue—that lead her further away from the one thing that really matters.
An extraordinary feat of syntactical dexterity and comic ingenuity, The Longcut is ultimately a story of resistance to easy answers and the place of art and the artist in the world.
Shortlisted for the Novel Prize
"I fell in love with this funny, cranky, exacting, perpetually questioning voice, and related deeply to the artistic and philosophical dilemmas limned with such witty urgency in these pages. Emily Hall's powers of observation and illumination astonished me — my own interior life was unexpectedly and disarmingly lit up." —Claire Dederer
Emily Hall has been a contributor to Artforum since 2003; her writing has also appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Stranger, and the zine RedHeaded StepChild. The Longcut, her first novel, was shortlisted for the 2020 Novel Prize. She lives in New York, where she edits exhibition catalogues at The Museum of Modern Art.