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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Pew

Pew

A Novel

Catherine Lacey

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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One of Vogue's Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2020, one of the Wall Street Journal's Nine Best Books to Read This Spring, one of BuzzFeed's Most Anticipated Books of 2020, one of Vulture's Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020, one of Refinery29's 25 Books You'll Want to Read This Summer, and one of The Millions Most Anticipated Books of the First Half of 2020

A figure with no discernible identity appears in a small, religious town, throwing its inhabitants into a frenzy

In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous, and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew.

As the town spends the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and secrets to them in one-sided conversations. Pew listens and observes while experiencing brief flashes of past lives or clues about their origins. As days pass, the void around Pew’s presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew’s story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths.

Pew, Catherine Lacey’s third novel, … More…

One of Vogue's Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2020, one of the Wall Street Journal's Nine Best Books to Read This Spring, one of BuzzFeed's Most Anticipated Books of 2020, one of Vulture's Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020, one of Refinery29's 25 Books You'll Want to Read This Summer, and one of The Millions Most Anticipated Books of the First Half of 2020

A figure with no discernible identity appears in a small, religious town, throwing its inhabitants into a frenzy

In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous, and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew.

As the town spends the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and secrets to them in one-sided conversations. Pew listens and observes while experiencing brief flashes of past lives or clues about their origins. As days pass, the void around Pew’s presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew’s story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths.

Pew, Catherine Lacey’s third novel, is a foreboding, provocative, and amorphous fable about the world today: its contradictions, its flimsy morality, and the limits of judging others based on their appearance. With precision and restraint, one of our most beloved and boundary-pushing writers holds up a mirror to her characters’ true selves, revealing something about forgiveness, perception, and the faulty tools society uses to categorize human complexity.

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SLEEP


IF YOU EVER NEED TO—and I hope you never need to, but a person cannot be sure—if you ever need to sleep, if you are ever so tired that you feel nothing but the animal weight of your bones, and you’re walking along a dark road...

Praise for Pew

"Catherine Lacey, a fiction wunderkind who writes with dynamite, has recreated herself, and our ideas about what novels can do, yet again." --Vulture

"[A] puzzle of a novel . . . Lacey has always been an economical writer, and she is as taut as she’s ever been here . . . These monologues make sections of the book read like Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy blended with the creeping unease of Ari Aster’s horror film Midsommar . . . it is within [Pew's] messier reaches, and its concerns with inequality and prejudice, that its boldest and most brilliant effects are found." --Chris Power, The Guardian (Book of the Day)

"It needs authorial guts to write a novel in which details are shrouded, meaning is concealed and little is certain. Step up Catherine Lacey, and welcome. . . . There’s a whiff of Shirley Jackson in the air . . . [Pew is] ultimately intriguing. It keeps you thinking, and you can’t ask for much more than that." --John Self, Spectator (London)

"[A] haunting fable about morality and self-delusion . . . Lacey—spare and elegant as ever—creates a story that feels at the same time mythological and arrestingly like life. Darkly playful; a warning without a moral." --Kirkus (starred review)

"An ambitious, powerful fable of identity and belief . . . Lacey’s talent shines in this masterful work, her best yet." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Lacey's quietly provocative novel is brilliantly composed. She shines a light on the complexity of humans… More…

"Catherine Lacey, a fiction wunderkind who writes with dynamite, has recreated herself, and our ideas about what novels can do, yet again." --Vulture

"[A] puzzle of a novel . . . Lacey has always been an economical writer, and she is as taut as she’s ever been here . . . These monologues make sections of the book read like Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy blended with the creeping unease of Ari Aster’s horror film Midsommar . . . it is within [Pew's] messier reaches, and its concerns with inequality and prejudice, that its boldest and most brilliant effects are found." --Chris Power, The Guardian (Book of the Day)

"It needs authorial guts to write a novel in which details are shrouded, meaning is concealed and little is certain. Step up Catherine Lacey, and welcome. . . . There’s a whiff of Shirley Jackson in the air . . . [Pew is] ultimately intriguing. It keeps you thinking, and you can’t ask for much more than that." --John Self, Spectator (London)

"[A] haunting fable about morality and self-delusion . . . Lacey—spare and elegant as ever—creates a story that feels at the same time mythological and arrestingly like life. Darkly playful; a warning without a moral." --Kirkus (starred review)

"An ambitious, powerful fable of identity and belief . . . Lacey’s talent shines in this masterful work, her best yet." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Lacey's quietly provocative novel is brilliantly composed. She shines a light on the complexity of humans and the dangers of judging and categorizing others based on appearance, as Pew’s ambiguity reveals the true nature of her characters." --Booklist

“A stranger comes to town, and takes us with them into their estrangement among the denizens of a conservative religious community. The people of this community are stifling, and generous, cruel, earnest, needy, overconfident, fragile and repressive, which is to say that they are brilliantly rendered by their wise maker, Catherine Lacey.” --Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers

“The mercurial and electric Catherine Lacey has now conjured up an of-the-moment fable of trauma and projection – one part Kaspar Hauser, one part James Purdy, and one part Rachel Cusk. The pages shimmer with implication.” --Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective

“I consumed Pew. It is the electric charge we need.” --Daisy Johnson, author of Everything Under

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Reviews from Goodreads

Catherine Lacey

Catherine Lacey is the author of the novels Nobody Is Ever Missing and The Answers, and the short story collection Certain American States. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. She was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, and was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The Believer, and elsewhere. Born in Mississippi, she is based in Chicago.

image of Catherine Laceyo
Willy Somma

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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