Julia | Granta

  • Published: 19/10/2023
  • ISBN: 9781783789153
  • Granta Books
  • 400 pages


Sandra Newman

London, chief city of Airstrip One, the third most populous province of Oceania. It’s 1984 and Julia Worthing works as a mechanic fixing the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. Under the ideology of IngSoc and the rule of the Party and its leader Big Brother, Julia is a model citizen – cheerfully cynical, believing in nothing and caring not at all about politics. She routinely breaks the rules but also collaborates with the regime whenever necessary. Everyone likes Julia. A diligent member of the Junior Anti-Sex League (though she is secretly promiscuous) she knows how to survive in a world of constant surveillance, Thought Police, Newspeak, Doublethink, child spies and the black markets of the prole neighbourhoods. She’s very good at staying alive.

But Julia becomes intrigued by a colleague from the Records Department – a mid-level worker of the Outer Party called Winston Smith – when she sees him locking eyes with a superior from the Inner Party at the Two Minutes Hate. And when one day, finding herself walking toward Winston, she impulsively hands him a note – a potentially suicidal gesture – she comes to realise that she’s losing her grip and can no longer safely navigate her world.

Seventy-five years after Orwell finished writing his iconic novel, Sandra Newman has tackled the world of Big Brother in a truly convincing way, offering a dramatically different, feminist narrative that is true to and stands alongside the original. For the millions of readers who have been brought up with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, here, finally, is a provocative, vital and utterly satisfying companion novel.

This extraordinary novel is like a newly discovered room in your house, in a dream - the illusion is so precise, the execution so masterful, that you think it must have been there all along, just waiting for you to find it. Sandra Newman has succeeded wildly at the impossible task she was given; JULIA should surprise and delight not only devotees of Orwell's classic, but fans of Newman's own daring, disquieting, and emotionally affecting oeuvre

J. Robert Lennon

A powerful feat of imagination and empathy which breathes new life into Orwell's nightmare

Dorian Lynskey, author of The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell's 1984

In Julia, Sandra Newman opens out the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four by looking at that novel's events from a female point of view. From Julia's life in a women's dormitory through her affair with Winston Smith and torture by the Thought Police, on to a meeting with Big Brother himself, it's a fascinating reflection on totalitarianism as refracted through Orwell's times and our own

What to read this autumn: 2023’s biggest new books, The Guardian

The Author

Sandra Newman is the author of four previous novels; The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, (shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award), Cake, The Country of Ice Cream Star (longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Literature) and The Heavens. She co-authored the hugely successful How Not to Write a Novel with Howard Mittelmark. She has also written The Western Lit Survival Kit, Read This Next, and a memoir, Changeling. She lives in New York.

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