There is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns.
In Seek You, Kristen Radtke’s wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share.
Ranging from the invention of the laugh-track to the rise of Instagram, the bootstrap-pulling cowboy to the brutal experiments of Harry Harlow, Radtke investigates why we engage with each other, and what we risk when we turn away. With her distinctive, emotionally-charged drawings and deeply empathetic prose, Kristen Radtke masterfully shines a light on some of our most vulnerable and sublime moments, and asks how we might keep the spaces between us from splitting entirely.
“Seek You stunned me. Kristen Radtke, one of the best of our literary artists, shines her brilliant light into modern America’s experiment in loneliness with this supremely elegant and devastating book. It was my companion during a long, dark night of the soul; I emerged grateful to have had such sleekness and wit, such calm intelligence, to guide me back to daylight.” —Lauren Groff, author of Florida
“If you’ve ever felt alone in America, this is the book you have been waiting to hold, and the one that will hold you back.” —Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk
“Kristen Radtke’s Seek You seems almost to invent something brand new: the comic strip feature documentary? The long-form graphic essay? I dunno, and it really doesn’t matter, because the humanity so keenly summed up in every line and mark of Radtke’s hand transcendently transmutes both the seriousness of her investigatory aim and the genuine desperation which underpins its timely yet universal thesis—all the while magnified by the skill, empathy and great intelligence of its author.” —Chris Ware, author of Rusty Brown
“Gripping. . . . Combining personal narrative with social science, evolutionary biology, and pop culture analysis, Radtke’s work is innovative in form and painfully relevant in content. . . . Somber illustrations range from journalistic to starkly symbolic, in variations on gray that establish a flat and lonely world, making the gradient sunset hues that sometimes burst through that much brighter. . . . For a treatise about the perils of being alone, [Seek You] creates a wonderful sense of being drawn into conversation.” —Publishers Weekly, (starred review)
“Deeply affecting. . . . Radtke is an engaging and thoughtful guide through our fear of being alone. . . . Superb. A rigorous, vulnerable book on a subject that is too often neglected.”
—Kirkus, (starred review)
“In graphic-essay style, Radtke centers her inquiry around four human behaviors—listen, watch, click, and touch—and devotes rich, meandering chapters to each. . . . Radtke's crisp, vector-drawn illustrations more than hint at reality; rather, in their layering and arrangement, they seem to reproduce it in truer, more emotional detail. Provocative and companionable, this will spark conversation and, undoubtedly, connection among readers.” —Booklist, (starred review)
“In often poetic prose accompanied by stunning illustration, Radtke weaves together personal anecdotes and examples drawn from physical and mental health studies to create a meditation on the causes and cost of isolation. . . . An insightful and compassionate investigation of loneliness.” —Library Journal, (starred review)
“Rarely has nonfiction been as topical as in Kristen Radtke’s wide-ranging exploration of loneliness. . . . Radtke expertly traces the cultural origins of loneliness . . . posing the question: what, specifically, do we lose—as individuals, and as a society—when we turn inward?”
—Vogue, “The Best Books to Read This Summer”
“A meditation on isolation and longing, examines the silent epidemic of loneliness in America, from the invention of the laugh-track to the unethical experiments of Harry Harlow. Radtke is a writer of enviable emotional intelligence, and one of our most elegant and virtuosic artists of devastation.” —Dan Sheehan, “Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2021”
“A marvelous deep dive into that universal emotion, blending science, memoir, journalism, research, philosophy, and pop culture to explore isolation and our desire to be close to one another. . . . Seek You explores ways that loneliness is assuaged, even without our knowledge, like through the laugh track of sitcoms, created to make the viewer feel that others are there.”
—Publishers Weekly, “Kristen Radtke Writes, and Draws, Our Loneliness”
“Radtke is unsentimental yet sincere, citing research on the impact of social isolation on life expectancy (it’s not good) and offering as salient a description of loneliness as I’ve read.”
—Vulture, “35 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Summer”
“Radtke pulls out moments from recent history that reveal a deeply felt need for connection . . . and connects them to her lived experience, exploring the possibility of deeper meaning with humility, grace, and remarkable insight into the human condition. It’s a bittersweet and especially moving journey following more than a year of unprecedented alienation and despair.”
—BuzzFeed, “28 New Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List ASAP”
“It’s difficult to think of anyone better suited to investigate this melancholy paradox than Kristen Radtke, whose graphic narratives convey—often with dizzying potency—the full range of how human solitude can manifest.” —Lit Hub, “75 Nonfiction Books You Should Read This Summer”
“Devastating and vital. . . . Radtke perfectly captures what it’s like to live in a lonely body, as well as examining loneliness in a historical, scientific, and cultural context.” —StyleBlueprint, “Your 2021 Summer Reading List”