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Longlisted for the Center for Fiction‘s First Novel Prize

“[An] intimate, fluid debut…The beauty of The Devoted lies in its intricate descriptions of religion’s hush and ritual… [A] novel as tender and fervent as a prayer.”
New York Times Book Review

“A belated coming-of-age novel with a quest at its core, The Devoted is an assured and promising debut.”

“Provocative… [A] terrifying but insightful warning not to look for easy answers offered by false prophets.”

“[Hurley’s] hand is confident and steady as she layers Zen teachings into the already complicated history of her novel’s focal character… Hurley leaves you thinking and sorting through feelings long after her final page.”
The Rumpus

“In Blair Hurley’s beautifully written first novel, a young woman charts a spiritual journey into the rigors of Zen Buddhism in a Boston storefront Zendo, under the guidance of a charismatic Master who soon becomes her lover. The relationship between Master and student is candidly charted and wholly convincing. The intellectual austerity of Zen Buddhism is presented with all the clarity of Zen itself, a fascinating subject. . . . A suspenseful and warmly engaging coming-of-age story.”
Joyce Carol Oates

“The Devoted is a beautifully written story of the seductions of faith, its many desperations both light and dark. A most absorbing and psychologically astute novel that announces Blair Hurley as a brave new talent.”
Chang-rae Lee

“Blair Hurley’s first novel is a sharp-eyed account of the psychological and sexual hold a spiritual ‘master’ can get on a lost young woman. What could have seemed like a fable in other hands, in Hurley’s is mordant and convincing. A spectacular debut!”
Edmund White

“Blair Hurley is a gorgeous writer. This novel brims with startling and organic metaphors that fuel, like Zen koans, the heart of a remarkable story. Unlike the Boston films of late, The Devoted gets the accents right.”
Anita Shreve

“Blair Hurley’s The Devoted is a thrilling, deep, fun, intense look at sex and faith, at East and West, and fraud and truth, at love and what it means to lose love. A remarkable debut, and more: a great read.”
Darin Strauss


About The Devoted

“She comes early, wet with rain, and confronts him in the back hall of the Zendo. ‘I need to know some things, ‘ she says. ‘You better come in, ‘ he says, and holds open the door. . . .”

Nicole Hennessy’s life revolves around her Zen practice at the Boston Zendo, seeking spiritual solace in the tenets of Buddhism. After a decade of grueling spiritual practice under her master’s tutelage, living on a shoestring as a shop clerk, Nicole has become sexually and emotionally entangled with her mentor. To break free, she must retrace her entire life’s journey–from her strict Irish Catholic upbringing to her drug-fueled year as a teenage runaway. Even as she reinvents herself in New York City, her master’s intoxicating voice pursues her, whispering dangerously in her ear. Somehow, he knows everything.

A hypnotic and daring debut, The Devoted asks what it takes, and what you’ll sacrifice, to find enlightenment.


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