Emma Cline’s Upcoming Novel ‘The Guest’ Is a Dark and Gilded Grifter Tale

It was 2016 when a bona fide literary furor erupted over The Girls, Emma Cline’s brief and beautiful novel about a lonely young girl in 1969 California who gets swept up in a mysterious hippie “family” hiding some Manson-esque secrets. Now, a few years after Daddy, Cline’s 2020 short story collection, we have something new to look forward to: The Guest, Cline’s second novel, due out from Random House on May 16, 2023.

Courtesy of Random House

The Guest follows Alex, a young woman summering on Long Island with an older man who abruptly tries to send her back to the city. Alex is described as “a cipher leaving destruction in her wake,” which happens to be one of the very best kinds of literary heroines, and the book’s mood is said to be at once chilling and eminently evocative of the rarefied world it portrays.

The Guest began with the character of Alex and the question of who this person was, what she was doing floating around the edges of this dark, perverse world. I wanted to see, too, if I could sustain some of the tension and forward momentum of a short story, while also holding the world of a novel at the same time,” Cline says. “If I had to trace some of the literary DNA of this book, I think of writers like Patricia Highsmith, Alfred Hayes, Marguerite Duras, and John Cheever, with a dash of the Safdies’ Good Time.” Not to be hasty, but it seems like we have a definite contender for Status Vacation Book of 2023.

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