Pub Date 24 Jan 2013
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2013
Sheila's twenties were going to plan.
She got married.
She hosted parties.
A theatre asked her to write a play.
Then she realised that she didn't know how to write a play.
That her favourite part of the party was cleaning up after the party.
And that her marriage made her feel like she was banging into a brick wall.
So Sheila abandons her marriage and her play, befriends Margaux, a free and untortured painter, and begins sleeping with the dominating Israel, who's a genius at sex but not at art. She throws herself into recording them and everyone around her, investigating how they live, desperate to know, as she wanders, How Should a Person Be?
Using transcripts, real emails, plus heavy doses of fiction, Heti crafts an exciting, courageous, and mordantly funny tour through one woman's heart and mind.
A Note From the Publisher
Vintage Books UK edition – available for UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) requests.
Uniquely honest, funny and clever... Heti is superbly truthful and shockingly funny - no words were minced in the making of this strange, brilliant book - The Times
Written with an occasionally wince-making and thoroughly commendable honesty…it’s a timely, gloriously messy, openhearted, clever and beautiful new thing - Dazed & Confused
[Sheila Heti] has an appealing restlessness, a curiosity about new forms, and an attractive freedom from pretentiousness or cant…How Should a Person Be? offers a vital and funny picture of the excitements and longueurs of trying to be a young creator in a free, late-capitalist Western City…This talented writer may well have identified a central dialectic of twenty-first-century postmodern being - James Wood, New Yorker
Funny…odd, original, and nearly unclassifiable…Sheila Heti does know something about how many of us, right now, experience the world, and she has gotten that knowledge down on paper, in a form unlike any other novel I can think of - New York Times
A book that risks everything... Complex, artfully messy, and hilarious
Joyously self-conscious…profoundly ironic…or, perhaps more accurately, it is a production profoundly concerned with how to live authentically in a world saturated by irony - New Statesman
There’s something endearing as well as disquieting about Heti’s willingness to exploit her own vulnerability…her book has a freshness and verve that make you wonder where she will go next - Irish Times
A humorous, quixotic quest for selfhood in a generation that seems defined by celebrity, triviality and Paris Hilton’s sex tapes - Sunday Telegraph
Playful, funny, wretched and absolutely true - The Paris Review
A beguiling "novel from life" about creativity and authenticity - Guardian Pick of 2013
A really amazing metafiction-meets-nonfiction novel - Lena Dunham, star and creator of HBO series 'Girls'
Funny, bawdy and fiercely original, this is the book everyone's talking about - and for good reason - Easy Living
A shamelessly funny read that’s got all of America talking - Grazia
Part of a growing movement to explore the messiness, self-consciousness and doubt of young women who have been told the world offers them unprecedented opportunity, and who are discovering just what that means - G2
It will be one of the most talked-about books of 2013 - Irish Tatler, 2013 Hot List
Utterly beguiling: blunt, charming, funny, and smart. Heti subtly weaves together ideas about sex, femininity and artistic ambition. Reading this genre-defying book was pure pleasure - David Shields, author of Reality Hunger
Sheila Heti’s vaguely autobiographical new novel might make her the Joan Didion of the “Girls” generation - Salon
It's a bawdy, idiosyncratic novel about art, sex, Toronto, female friendship and the endless quest to learn how to live. The title makes me quake with envy. All good books should be called just that... - Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding
Alongside pondering life’s unanswerable questions, blow jobs are quoted as an art form in Sheila Heti’s second novel, How Should a Person Be?, a shamelessly funny read that’s got all of America talking - Grazia
The book has been compared to Lena Dunham's Girls and they do seem part of a growing movement to explore the messiness, self-consciousness and doubt of young women who have been told the world offers them unprecedented opportunity, and who are discovering just what that means - G2
What’s compelling about the book is certainly its raw interrogation of the process of creating both a work of art and an artist's personality - Telegraph
How Should a Person Be? is a question to be revisited by the author herself, or another writer, or many other writers – but it’s also the question novels were invented to respond to… Sheila makes it ugly to clear a space: for novels to be less fictional, for women to dream of being geniuses, for a way of being 'honest and transparent and give away nothing' - London Review of Books
Genuinely laugh out loud - Daily Mail
Utterly now - Metro
Girls in book form - Sunday Times Style
A sharp and unsentimental chronicle of what it is like to be a 20-something now…Heti’s mordant take on modernity encourages introspection. It is easy to see why a book on the anxiety of celebrity has turned the author into one herself - Economist
She’s at her best when she turns outwards to faux-innocent criticisms of the creative and slightly self-regarding circles she moves in… Read this for the jolt between reality and fiction and as an attempt at mapping the complicated emotional terrain best friendships can be - Emerald Street
Ambitious, assured and ruthlessly controlled…exhilarating - Prospect
Witty, unusual, raw…a powerful read…a classic in the making. Its montage of thoughts and emotions, written in the fearlessly true voice of its author, lend the book an unmistakable honesty and make it a truly original memoir as well as a great novel in its own right - Stylist
An unconventional blur of fact and fiction, How Should a Person Be? is an engaging cocktail of memoir, novel and self-help guide - Grazia
A candid collection of taped interviews and emails, random notes and daring exposition…fascinating - Irish Times
Occasionally magical…this is an undeniably strange and unique book - Scotsman
Terribly compelling - Independent on Sunday
Genuinely provocative, funny and original - Literary Review
A serious work about authenticity, how to lead a moral life and accept one’s own ugliness - Evening Standard
An exuberantly productive mess, filtered and reorganised after the fact…rather than working within a familiar structure, Heti has gone out to look for things that interest her and “put a fence around” whatever she finds - Times Literary Supplement
We may suspect this is barely fictionalised autobiography and we may well be right, but it's very witty barely fictionalised biography - Belfast Telegraph
A sharp, witty exploration of relationships, art and celebrity culture - Jewish Chronicle
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2013
A novel from life: a raw, startling, genre-defying novel of friendship, sex, and love in the new millennium. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Egan, Joan Didion, Melissa Banks, and Leanne Shapton.
Fans include Chad Harbach, David Shields, Margaret Atwood, Miranda July, Sloane Crosley, Leanne Shapton
Huge coverage in the US with ecstatic reviews and huge debate around the books blurring of boundaries between fact and fiction
Picked as Editor's Choice in the New York Times Book Review in July 2011
Chad Harbach picked this book as his book of the summer 2011 in Entertainment Weekly: 'It's a bawdy, idiosyncratic novel about art, sex, Toronto, female friendship and the endless quest to learn how to live. The title makes me quake with envy. All good books should be called that...'
Joan Didion for the 'Girls' generation