The Exhibition of Persephone Q
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A WALL STREET JOURNAL AND VOGUE
MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2020
A surreal and satirical portrait of a pregnant woman adrift in a haunted, post-9/11 Manhattan…
Percy is pregnant. She hasn’t told a soul. Probably she should tell her husband—certainly she means to—but one night she wakes up to find she no longer recognizes him. Now, instead of sleeping, Percy is spending her nights taking walks through her neighborhood, all the while fretting over her marriage, her impending motherhood, and the sinister ways the city is changing.
Amid this alienation—from her husband, home, and rapidly changing body—a package arrives. In it: an exhibition catalog for a photography show. The photographs consist of a series of digitally manipulated images of a woman lying on a bed in a red room. It takes a moment for even Percy to notice that the woman is herself . . . but no one else sees the resemblance.
Percy must now come to grips with the fundamental question of identity in the digital age: To what extent do we own our own image, and to what extent is that image shaped by the eyes of others?
Capturing perfectly the haunted atmosphere of Manhattan immediately after 9/11—and the simmering insanity of America ever since—Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s The Exhibition of Persephone Q is a darkly witty satire about how easy it is to lose ownership of our own selves.
Praise for The Exhibition of Persephone Q
“Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s The Exhibition of Persephone Q is a captivating portrait of urban solitude, by turns strange, poignant, and poetic.”
author of Sea Monsters
“The Exhibition of Perserphone Q has the heart of a Hitchcock film. With a voice both riveting and wisely bizarre, Jessi Jezewska Stevens tells a timeless story of the battle to stop the present from turning into the past.”
author of Certain American States
“The Exhibition of Persephone Q is a great millennial ghost story, in which a wry, wise, yet guileless heroine is haunted by all the other stories she could be living. Jessi Stevens is the Muriel Spark of 21st century New York.”
author of Book of Numbers
“With a voice both lucid and searching, Jessi Stevens depicts the great illogic of love, as well as all the small, strange quiddities of being a body in a material and virtual world. Lit up with melancholy, humor, and perfect oddness, this remarkable debut casts an afterglow long after its final pages.”
author of Neon in Daylight
“Brimming with wit, intricately and playfully observed, The Exhibition of Persephone Q is a marvel, a treat, a mystery rooted in the unquestioned and unquestionable substance of identity. Stevens announces herself as a bold, surprising, and utterly compelling voice, with a slant on the world that is entirely her own.”
author of You Too Can Have a Body like Mine
“Stevens’ dreamlike first novel is a delicate and drifting exploration of Percy’s relationships with friends, lovers, neighbors, and the many not-quite strangers who form the fabric of city life. As Percy wanders, New York itself is reflected through the prism of her many identities . . . in luminous prose that captures the essence of a place in the middle of its most defining transformation. A stellar debut.”
“Stevens’s striking, unique debut explores the increasing alienation a young woman feels as eerie phenomena creep into her life . . . Stevens is a talented writer, and her debut is a propulsive experience.”
“Stevens’ debut is a compelling and visually rich novel that explores alienation in all its forms. The book’s poetic language and realistically absurd characters will keep readers intrigued until the final page.”
Leah von Essen,