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Rachel’s debut novel, The Fifth Wall, was published by Black Sparrow Books in 2017 and was deemed by Chris Kraus in i-D Magazine as “falling within a new and exciting tradition of female philosophical fiction.”

Excerpts of The Fifth Wall are published in 3:AM Magazine and The Brooklyn Rail.

You can purchase The Fifth Wall from Godine,, or the distributor of your choice.


Praise for The Fifth Wall:

"Art, grief, and technology churn in this excellent and raw novel…[that] profoundly explores the way we live with technology and how it informs our understanding of reality." — Publisher's Weekly


"A very intelligently written, well-crafted book…reflective, somewhat anxious, somewhat bleak, often beautiful in concept and in execution." — Erik Davis, Expanding Mind Podcast

"A daring story about art, trauma, identity, and how the space we live and move in affects it all.” — Porter Square Books


"The writing is both haunting and beautiful, with vivid descriptions that pull the reader into each moment." — Mackenzie Rodrigues, The Fifth Floor

“Set into motion by an inexplicable, traumatic and violent real-life event, Rachel Nagelberg’s brilliant first novel begins at the limits of contemporary art, as it attempts to reflect the ungraspable present. Female and philosophical, emotion flows through the book across a dense and familiarly incomprehensible web of information, from satellite selfies to awkward sex to internet beheadings and shamanic tourism in the third world. Nagelberg’s engrossing narration is littered with stunning perception: We look into the distance to be able to see what’s right in front of us. She writes without affect, and with unselfconscious acuity. That is, she writes really well.”

CHRIS KRAUS, author of I Love Dick


“Nagelberg has a true gift, able to write gorgeously on the line level with unctuous images. And simultaneously, there’s a readable page-turner here. Most of us are lucky to do one of those, which is a testament to the singular talent. This book cascades beauty and meaning and truth.”

JOSHUA MOHR, author of All This Life and Termite Parade

“The Fifth Wall crackles with braininess and sex. It’s hallucinatory and interactive and funny and sad and it has something incandescent to show you. Careful, you might get scorched. Come, take a look.”

STEPHEN BEACHY, author of The Whistling Song and Distortion

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