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Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey
Literary fiction

Topics of Conversation


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Miranda Popkey, on your first book!

by Miranda Popkey

Quick take

Dive into snapshots of a woman's most intimate thoughts as she tries to make sense of the relationships in her life.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FemaleFriendship

    Female friendships

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Cerebral


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SalaciousPeach



Miranda Popkey's first novel is about desire, disgust, motherhood, loneliness, art, pain, feminism, anger, envy, guilt—written in language that sizzles with intelligence and eroticism. The novel is composed almost exclusively of conversations between women—the stories they tell each other, and the stories they tell themselves, about shame and love, infidelity and self-sabotage—and careens through twenty years in the life of an unnamed narrator hungry for experience and bent on upending her life. Edgy, wry, shot through with rage and despair, Topics of Conversation introduces an audacious and immensely gifted new novelist.

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Content warning

This is a very short book that is more about ideas and less about plot.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Topics of Conversation.

Why I love it

Topics of Conversation is my worst nightmare come true: a book in which my darkest, most shameful, most secret thoughts are laid bare on the page. The title of this brisk, slim novel hints at its atypical structure—in lieu of a conventional plot, this novel takes us through twenty disparate years of the unnamed narrator’s life.

Each chapter of this debut is a different conversation taking place during the unnamed narrator’s life, from college years to newlywed status to motherhood. These conversations, primarily with other women, are usually unrelated to one other, but all are about sex, fear, motherhood, power, and disgust. It is a feast of intimacies that I gulped up greedily.

This is a provocative novel that pulses with curiosity, and it flows like actual conversations—moving from the mundane to the profane to the profound all within a few sentences. As the narrator tells us in the very first chapter, “I am never more covetous than when someone tells me a story, a secret…” As you race through this novel, you’ll understand exactly what she means. You might feel a little uncomfortable, like you’re overhearing a conversation that has become far too vulnerable. But you won’t turn away.

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Member ratings (6,747)

  • Kaylee S.

    Youngwood, PA

    Expertly experimental. It’s a stream of the narrator’s thoughts, meant to be a conversation with the reader. It’s a great message the narrator is sending without saying—it makes readers do the work.

  • Isaac W.

    West Hollywood, CA

    INCREDIBLE! Not a traditional story but it’s like Being John Malkovich. It reads not like stream of consciousness but like you’ve entered the slipstream of these lives. It’s fascinating and so great!

  • emmy w.

    Vineyard Haven, MA

    Was smitten with the dark and honest portrayal of self-indulgent thought and the highly intelligent prose, effusive and confessionary like having unfettered access to (wo)mankind’s deepest skeletons.

  • Abi J.

    Roeland Park, KS

    Such a poignant and unsettling story. The narrator is unreliable and unlikable, but I found myself identifying with her anyway. She’s saying things I’ve only ever thought, but never dared to speak.

  • Ashley H.

    Sardinia, NY

    I haven’t read a book like this since my early 20s-the last one was probably some trumped up book for a lit class- but this one, was magic. There was power, and fear mixed with mistakes and triumphs.