September 5, 2023 | in

The Modern

By Anna Kate Blair

In an age driven by desire, what happens when you want two different things?

Set in the pristine, precarious world of MoMA, The Modern is a brilliantly wry and insightful debut about art, sexuality, commitment and whether being on the right path can lead to the wrong place.

Things seem to be working out for Sophia in New York: having come from Australia to be at the centre of modernity, she’s working at the Museum of Modern Art, living in a great apartment with a boyfriend interviewing for Ivy League teaching positions. They’re smart, serious, dine in the right restaurants and have (a little unexpectedly) become engaged just before he leaves to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Alone in the city, Sophia begins to wonder what it means to be married – to be defined, publicly – in the 21st century. Can you be true to yourself and someone else? In a bridal shop she meets Cara, a young artist struggling to get over her ex-girlfriend, and the two begin a connection that leads Sophia to question the nature of her relationships, her career and the consequences of being modern.

Both playful and profound, inhabiting the gap between what we feel about ourselves and how we behave, Anna Kate Blair’s debut novel is a sparklingly insightful queer exploration of desire, art and her generation’s place in the world. It announces an exceptional new literary voice.

‘Cerebral and sensual … each fork in the road revealing itself with insight and beauty.’ Katerina Gibson, author of Women I Know

‘A dazzling exploration of desire and longing. Anna Kate Blair has given us a new form of fiction – intellectual, yearning, honest and vulnerable.’ Anne Casey-Hardy, author of Cautionary Tales for Excitable Girls

‘This novel is a work of art … It made me laugh, feel lucky to be alive, and reminded me of the expansiveness of creativity.’ Laura McPhee-Browne, author of Cherry Beach

About the author:

Anna Kate Blair is a writer from Aotearoa based in Naarm. Her essays and short stories have appeared in Cordite, Slow Canoe, Archer, Meanjin, The Big Issue’s Fiction Edition, Landfall, The Lifted Brow and other publications. Anna has won awards including the Wyndham Short Story Prize, the AAWP Slow Canoe Creative Nonfiction Prize and the Warren Trust Award for Architectural Writing. She holds a PhD in History of Art and Architecture from the University of Cambridge and has previously herself worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is currently Program and Partnerships Manager at Writers Victoria.

ISBN: 9781761421242

Publisher: Simon & Schuster


TitleThe Modern