Playwright's first novel is entrancing, eerie

Jun 4, 2014

Durham-based playwright Monica Byrne's first novel, The Girl in the Road, is incredibly difficult to describe. But it’s one of those books that you read and immediately have to shove into someone else’s hands, saying, 'Here, read this so we can talk about it.'

“I’m sort of glad that it defies categorization and description,” Byrne said,.

The Girl in the Road is futuristic, but not quite sci-fi; it’s suspenseful but introspective, one of those books where the way the story is told is almost more interesting than the plot itself.


Here’s Byrne’s summary: “A woman walks across the Arabian Sea by herself. And thirty years earlier, a young girl hops on a caravan across the Sahara. And her stories are intertwined. And, like, i can’t be an elevator pitch, basically. That was my best shot at an elevator pitch, and it doesn’t work at all,” she laughed.

This is as much as I’ll tell you: the book, which largely takes place in 2068, tells the stories of two young women, whose lives and trajectories are separated by thirty years. The two voyages seem to run parallel, until all of a sudden, they’re totally entangled.

“I feel like you would like my book if you are comfortable being uncomfortable," said Byrne.

And she’s right-- The Girl in the Road is totally eerie and mildly disturbed, but it’s also fascinating and well-executed, the sort of book that, once you finish, you could start right over again and understand that much more fully.

Monica Byrne will read from and sign copies of The Girl in the Road tonight at 7 at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Downtown Asheville.