The Modern by Anna Kate Blair

The Modern is a playful and introspective debut novel that interrogates queerness and urban social life through a lens of art history. Sophia is on the cusp of 30, living in New York with her well-off boyfriend and working as a fellow at the Museum of Modern Art. As an art historian, Sophia is well-versed in the past and in analysing social aesthetics. Her observational training, however, is turned inwards throughout this novel as she’s struck by the prospect of being a queer woman married to a man in the 21st century. As her boyfriend departs for a six-month trek in the mountains, Sophia questions what marriage means, what she might gain and what parts of herself she might lose.

As Sophia ultimately begins to understand, modernity in itself is in flux. To be modern is to be temporary, changing and evolving, as is she and everyone else in New York. Like many other millennials, Sophia finds herself on a precipice; not quite married, not quite a full-time employee, not entirely Australian or American. Driven purely by instinct and desire, she chases her career in the museum world with an unintentional reckless abandon.

Anna Kate Blair spins through many themes and topics with skilful ease in modern art, queer identity and modernity. The museum and its contents are a playground for Blair to deconstruct Sophia’s psyche, her fears and instincts, and how everything collides in the overstimulating melting pot that is New York City. The Modern questions and examines social definitions of life – marriage, queerness, friendship, and how they are warped between public and private domains. Like art, people are rarely just what they seem, but, similar to art, they are different things to different people, and these perceptions are wholly beyond personal control.

Cover image for The Modern

The Modern

Anna Kate Blair

In stock at 5 shops, ships in 3-4 daysIn stock at 5 shops