This cult classic novel about anorexia asks the question “How much space does a woman feel entitled to take up in the world?” With nightmarish accuracy and bleak wit, Shute chronicles the traumatic hospitalization of a young woman who has almost starved herself to death. Refusing to see that she is endangering her own life, Josie, a 25-year-old graduate student, imagines, instead, that she is approaching perfection. Exquisitely written and darkly comic, this novel will resonate with any woman whose life has been diminished by the tyranny of thinness–and with anyone trying to understand such a condition. In this riveting novel, Shute pierces to the heart of our contemporary obsession with food and body image.


“As compulsive as a good thriller, as strongly angry as a feminist manifesto, and as beautiful as a work of art.”

— The Independent

“This novel may be brutal, but its rewards are many. Shute writes with vividness and bleak wit, and does not allow us the easy way out. Riveting . . . Unforgettable . . . A transcendent work of fiction”

— Washington Post Book World

“Extraordinary and powerful . . . A great achievement . . . A truly fine, improbably witty novel . . . a compelling work of art.”

— Boston Magazine

“A remarkable novel . . . The reader becomes absorbed in Josie’s plunge into hell and her heroic, if tentative, journey back to sanity.”

— The New York Times Book Review

“Compelling . . . remarkable . . . a stunning novel . . . an indictment of a culture in which women are encouraged to aspire to an artificial standard of beauty.”

— Boston Globe

“Vivid . . . harrowing . . . dramatic and effective . . . a brilliantly written novel . . . The reader is inexorably drawn to Josie and her abyss of anxiety, obsession, and self-hatred . . . Shute is magnificent”

— San Francisco Chronicle

“A mordantly funny novel . . . it offers vital insight, stark and even lyrical by turns, into how anorexia looks from the inside.”

Independent (UK)

“Shute exposes horrifying truths about women and food . . . A riveting fiction debut, brilliantly done, and everyone ought to read it.”

— Cosmopolitan

“A stunning book: compulsory reading for compulsive eaters and non-eaters.”

Time Out (London)

“Riveting . . . important . . . darkly comic . . . a memorable psychological drama”

— Booklist

“A stunning, agonizing, terrifying and funny first novel that finally tells the truth about the body.”

— Louise de Salvo, author of Vertigo: A Memoir

“The miracle of Life-Size is its transcendence of its subject . . . This luminous, horrifying, elegantly written book about a woman starving in both body and mind is absolutely unique, unlike anything I’ve ever read.”

— Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

“The first novel I’ve read that accurately renders the slice of half-life that is the anorexic experience. Jenefer Shute’s elegant prose style is further distinguished by her feminist insight into the cultural genesis of the disease. Life-Size is highly recommended for anyone who is baffled by the disease and needs both an emotional and a political understanding.”

— Naomi Wolf