Woman of Interest

A Memoir

by Tracy O'Neill

On Sale: 06/25/2024

Woman of Interest

Enlarge Book Cover

Woman of Interest

A Memoir

by Tracy O'Neill

On Sale: 06/25/2024


About the Book

MOST ANTICIPATED READ and MUST READ OF 2024: The Millions, LitHub, Esquire, BookRiot, Bustle, Vulture, Boston Globe, Brit & Co, Southern Living

A National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honoree delivers her first work of nonfiction: a compulsively readable, genre-bending story of finding her missing birth mother and, along the way, learning the priceless power of self-knowledge.

In 2020, Tracy O’Neill began to rethink her ideas of comfort and safety. Just out of a ten-year relationship and thirtysomething, she was driven by an acute awareness that the mysterious mother she’d never met might be dying somewhere in South Korea.

After contacting a grizzled private investigator, O’Neill took his suggested homework to heart when he disappeared before the job was done, picking up the trail of clues and becoming her own hell-bent detective. Despite COVID-19, the promise of what she might discover—the possibility that her biological mother was her kind of outlaw, whose life could inspire her own—was too tempting.

Written like a mystery novel, Woman of Interest is a tale of self-discovery and fugitivity from convention that features a femme fatale of unique proportions, a former CIA operative with a criminal record, and a dogged investigator of radical connections outside the nuclear family. O’Neill gorgeously bends the detective genre to her own will as a writer, stepping out of the shadows of her own self-conception to illuminate the hopes of the woman of interest she is both chasing and becoming.

Critical Praise

"Woman of Interest is a memoir wrapped in a mystery—an inward examination of family, identity, and self, but also an actual gumshoe detective story that takes the author to the other side of the world. With each extraordinary, prickly sentence, O’Neill’s search for her biological mother is conjured with clarity and conflict. This is a work that is funny, moving, mean—an exceptional book from an extraordinary writer." — Kevin Nguyen, author of New Waves

"Woman of Interest is a brilliantly constructed Russian doll of a memoir—a profound meditation on language and desire within an insightful family mythology within a propulsive detective story. How does Tracy O’Neill hold it all together? With a rare combination of exquisite prose, good humor, and intellectual rigor." — Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks

"Know this: Tracy O’Neill has a novelist’s sense of narrative, the eye and ear of a poet, and the luminous mind of young philosopher—gifts woven into an innovative, propulsive, and trenchant memoir about the search for self and one’s roots as well as the evolution of family myths. This book, as is Tracy, is an exemplar of literary brilliance." — Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math

"With Woman of Interest, Tracy O’Neill solidifies her status as one of our greatest living prose stylists. With a singular wit and brilliance, O’Neill expands the horizons of the memoir, pushing the boundaries of the genre into the realm of detective noir and thrilling quest narrative. O’Neill’s formal innovations and bracing prose create a new and invigorating lens through which readers can view a universal theme: the desire to search for the self and one’s source." — Chloé Cooper Jones, author of Easy Beauty

"A funny, effervescent addition to the memoir-as-detective-story genre." — Nicole Chung, Esquire

"A fascinating and immersive look at identity, dedication and unanswered questions." — Tobias Carroll, InsideHook

"Resembles what experimental jazz would be like if it were a written narrative. Funny, shocking, and emotionally charged, the memoir takes readers on [O'Neill's] journey of self-discovery and finding what family means." — Library Journal

"Cool, noir-tinted prose shot through with wit and compassion, O’Neill presents her inquiry as a sort of metaphysical detective story. Readers will be riveted." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"O’Neill’s prose brims with intelligence, energy, and humor." — New York

"[An] urgent, atmospheric memoir meets noir about family shadows, writing, and the pursuit of searching for answers we know we might never find." — Oprah Daily

"O’Neill is a true stylist; her prose brims with intelligence, energy, and humor. This memoir exploring identity and family is unlike any other." — Vulture

"O’Neill leverages her significant talent to infuse the tension of a hard-boiled mystery novel into an exploration of motherhood, identity, and belonging." — Bustle

"By choosing the tone of a noir, she inhabits a narrative space full of macabre humor, plot twists and offbeat characters. Her sentences run to the jangling and unpredictable rhythms of the classic detective story, with spare descriptions and snappy, deadpan dialogue. ... O’Neill reports on a quest that, while uniquely her own in terms of form and content, is also relatable to anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and wondered, 'Who am I, really? And who are my people?'" — BookPage

"One of the most distinctive prose stylists writing today…[O’Neill] approaches this deeply personal quest like an icy cool spy on an assignment of international espionage." — Boston Globe

"There are some new summer books that have nothing to do with fiction, but read like a mystery novel. This is one of them." — Brit + Co

"Singular and transcendent." — Bomb


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063309869
  • ISBN 10: 0063309866
  • Imprint: HarperOne
  • On Sale: 06/25/2024
  • Pages: 288
  • List Price:35.99 CAD
  • BISAC2 : FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Adoption & Fostering
  • BISAC3 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / Asian & Asian American
  • BISAC5 : TRAVEL: Asia / East / Korea
  • BISAC6 : SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
  • BISAC7 : SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Marriage & Family
  • BISAC8 : FICTION / Mystery & Detective / General

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