In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Mona Awad’s innovative and exhilarating All’s Well is one of my favorite novels of the year. Propulsive, dark, funny, and very smart, this is a book not to miss.
Booklist wrote of the book:
“A brilliant noir comedy about art and illness…. Awad’s characters are deliciously over the top and impossible to forget, as is the author’s gift for morbid humor….Endlessly thought-provoking and not to be missed.”
I began compiling this playlist when I first conceived of All’s Well in the winter of 2017. I had been toying with a story idea about an unorthodox theater director obsessed with staging Shakespeare’s disturbing comedy, All’s Well That Ends Well. It was when I realized that she would live Macbeth offstage that the idea became a book. But as with Bunny, making the playlist, a process which began long before the serious writing, is what made this story truly come alive for me. The mix of Nat King Cole’s cosmic nostalgia in “Stardust,” the dark brightness of Judy Garland’s “Get Happy!,” the surreal, visceral soundscapes of Bjork and the sonic sagas of Led Zeppelin, allowed me to dream it into being off and then on the page. Each song captures a different scene or sequence in the book. My playlists are always too long to go into song by song—they tend to follow the sequence of the plot like a soundtrack, they tend to also reflect my own process of wandering down rabbit holes, getting lost in particular moments and places. Just as you’ll find a blend of genres and atmospheres in the novel—tragedy & comedy, horror & fairy tale, ecstasy & pain, dark joy & bright dread—so there is genre and mood blending in this playlist: from hauntingly happy or sorrowful old classics to psychedelic metal to dreamy indie pop. I’m grateful to each of these artists for keeping me company as I dreamed myself into this world, and for the songs that helped me conjure it.
Mona Awad is the author of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the Amazon Canada First Novel Award and Bunny, named a Best Book of 2019 by Time, Vogue, and The New York Public Library, a finalist for the New England Book Award, and currently in development as an AMC series written by Megan Mostyn-Brown. She has published work in The New York Times Magazine, Time, VICE, Electric Literature, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. She begins teaching fiction fall 2020 in the MFA program at Syracuse. Awad currently lives in Boston.