The Importance of Being a Nobody | Guest Post & Giveaway

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The Importance of Being a Nobody

Guest Post by Katarina West,

author of Absolute Truth, For Beginners

This month I have published my second novel, Absolute Truth, For Beginners, which is a novel about love and life, and life’s Big Truths. The heroine is a twenty-something art history graduate Elisa, insecure and bookish, and eager to find her place in this world. Then, unexpectedly, she falls desperately in love with a famous mathematician thirty-two years her senior, and that’s when the story starts in earnest.

And you know what her first truth is? The one and only wisdom she learns first? 

It’s this: we’re all Nobodies.

Yup, you heard me. In the grand scheme of things none of us matters. Not I, not you, and not anyone you and I know. Which means that no matter who we are, or what we do, or what we earn, at the end of the day we’re just as important as a grain of sand on a never-ending beach.

‘The odds are that you’re a Nobody,’ Elisa writes in Absolute Truth, For Beginners. ‘And if you aren’t a Nobody, then you are married to a Nobody, or dating a Nobody, or your parents are Nobodies, or your children are Nobodies, or your friends are Nobodies. Or you are a Nobody and your partner is a Nobody and your parents are Nobodies and your children are Nobodies and your friends are Nobodies. It happens, you know.’

Take it from me – we’re all Nobodies. But this is not to say that we are Nobodies in a similar way. Because there are those of us who are Nobodies by choice: they have renounced worldly life and try not to give importance to themselves and their desires. And then there are those who are Nobodies by force of circumstance: they dream of unleashing their potential, yet fail to do so. Many drift aimlessly through their lives, blind to everything else except the things they never managed to achieve.

When the story begins, Elisa decidedly belongs to the latter group. She’s drifting from one day to another, passive and confused. She hates her life in general and herself in particular, and in her heart of hearts hopes that something Big might happen.

Obviously, Big Things happen. Elisa’s life changes in a way that she never expected. That’s why when the story comes to an end she has shifted to the other group: those who are Nobodies by choice. She has realised that life is so much more worth living if you’re a happy Nobody, rather than if you are an unhappy Somebody.

And she’s right, you know. Because it is true that society is pressuring us to be successful, and beautiful, and popular, and whatnot – and then to post it all on Facebook. But you know what? 

Being Somebody is a waste of time.

That’s right; life is so much better when you’re a nonentity. Because only as a Nobody will you lose your fears and impossible hopes, and take things as they are. You’ll live in the moment, because the past won’t matter and the future can’t frighten you. 

What’s more, you’ll understand life’s randomness and that success is often a question of chance: we wouldn’t know about Kafka, for example, had his friend Max Brod not defied his instructions to burn all his writings. Who knows, being a Nobody might even set you free. Look what happened to Odysseus in Polyphemus’s cave in the land of the Cyclopes.

I’m serious here – there are obvious advantages to being a Nobody. Since the world doesn’t give a damn about you, you don’t have to give a damn about anything. You’ve got no fancy job, which is why you’ve got time and freedom. You’ve got neither money nor problems keeping it. You’ve got no admirers, except one, who thinks the world of you: yourself. You’ve got neither looks nor a huge Twitter following – but you’ve got your head and you’ve got your good heart, and in the long run, that’s all that matters. And fine, you might know nothing… But people who claim they know something know even less than you. Plus, you think you’re good at nothing, but you’re wrong: you are good at something – otherwise you wouldn’t be a Nobody. 

So yes, stop jogging, and get out of that treadmill. Switch off your laptop, and stop checking your work messages. Stop worrying, stop trying, stop planning, stop frowning, stop rushing around. Loosen up your tie, look out of the window, and just live – at least for the next ten minutes. 

Because life might be worth living just the way it is. 

'Nobody' Image Source

Absolute Truth, For Beginners

by Katarina West

Publisher: Independent
Published on: November 30, 2015
Page count: 379

Elisa Mancini is a Nobody. Painfully insecure, more at ease with books than with people, at twenty-three she’s a university dropout living at her aunt’s, drifting from one day to another, and waiting for something big to happen.

Judith Shapiro is a Somebody. Arrogant and eccentric, she’s a superstar of mathematics, the subject of scientific articles, and the undisputed ruler of the world around her.
In a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, Elisa falls madly in love with Judith Shapiro. For sixty-eight days she is the mistress of an internationally acclaimed mathematician.
But loving Judith Shapiro is like running a marathon in a war zone. As days pass, Elisa’s wild infatuation takes on a suicidal bent, and the world around her starts to go to pieces. Just as everything is about to blow up, the moment of truth comes.
Absolute Truth, For Beginners is a story about truth, time and love. Or about identity, positive nursing, degrees of happiness, Baroque art, scientific theories, homosexual lovemaking, arrogant television producers, and becoming who you really are.

Buy the book

About the author

Katarina West is the author of Witchcraft Couture, her debut novel. She was born in Helsinki, Finland, into a bilingual family that in addition to humans consisted of dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, canaries, rabbits and – thanks to her biology teacher mother – stuffed owls and squirrels.

She spent time travelling in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and went on to study at Queen Mary and Westfield College in London and the European University Institute in Florence, where she completed a PhD in political science and published a book based on it, Agents of Altruism. During those student years she started work as a journalist, and continued writing for various Finnish magazines and newspapers for over ten years, writing on various topics from current events and humanitarian issues to celebrity interviews and short stories. She also briefly worked as a university lecturer on humanitarian issues in Northern Italy.

Katarina lives in an old farmhouse in Chianti with her husband and son and when not writing, she is fully immersed in Tuscan country life, from jam-making and olive-picking to tractor maintenance.


  • 10 Amazon eBook copies of Absolute Truth, For Beginners to be won.
  • Ends on 31st December 2015
  • Open internationally!

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