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Tony and Susan


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Austin Wright’s novel “Tony and Susan” is a dazzling achievement: simultaneously a riveting portrayal of the experience of reading and a page-turning thriller, written in startlingly arresting prose. It is also a novel about fear and regret, revenge and aging, marriage and creativity. It is simply unique. The novel was originally published in 1993, whereas its reprinting has been described as the return of a modern classic. Fifteen years ago, Susan Morrow left her first husband Edward Sheffield. One day, comfortable in her home, and her second marriage, she receives, entirely out of the blue, a parcel containing the manuscript of her ex-husband's first novel. He writes asking her to read the book; she was always his best critic, he says. 

As Susan reads, she is awed by the skillful, harrowing story—a story that real-world readers of Tony and Susan will encounter in its entirety. It’s about a man, Tony, whose wife and daughter are abducted by some menacing men in the middle of the road. And as Tony copes with the aftermath of this violent incident, Susan copes with the memories of her dead marriage and the realities of her current domestic situation. Susan and Tony seem to speak to one another, the way any attentive reader feels that he is speaking with the characters on the page. It takes the reader to live in Susan's head as Tony's story brings to the surface her thoughts on how she has lead her life. 

Susan enjoys Edward's novel and finds herself sympathizing with Tony. She decides to invite Edward over for dinner the night he is in town in order to discuss his work, but Edward never calls despite the fact that Susan leaves several messages at his hotel. The following day, having discovered he has checked out, she writes a thoughtful piece of criticism for him and then trashes it, sending him a brief note instead telling him she will give him her thoughts if he would like them. The novel was adapted into a screenplay by Tom Ford and developed into the 2016 film Nocturnal Animals, directed by Ford, which was released to positive reception. Following the adaptation, the book was again republished, with a new cover and the updated title of Nocturnal Animals, corresponding with the film's release.