Helen Phillips is the author of, most recently, the novel The Need. Her collection Some Possible Solutions received the 2017 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her novel The Beautiful Bureaucrat, a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the NYPL Young Lions Award. Her collection And Yet They Were Happy was named a notable collection by The Story Prize. She is also the author of the middle-grade novel Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green. Helen has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and the Italo Calvino Prize in Fabulist Fiction, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Tin House, and on Selected Shorts. She is an associate professor at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, artist Adam Douglas Thompson, and their children. Visit HelenCPhillips.com.
The daring new novel from Katherine Faw, the brilliant author of Young God, is a scintillating story of money, sex, and power told in Faw’s viciously sharp prose. A high-end, girlfriend-experience prostitute has just returned to her native New York City after more than a decade abroad—in Dubai, with a man she recalls only as the Sheikh—but it’s unclear why exactly she’s come back. Did things go bad for her? Does she have scores to settle?
Regardless, she has quickly made herself at home. She’s set up a rotation of clients—all of them in finance—each of whom has different delusions of how he is important to her. And she’s also met a man whom she doesn’t charge—a damaged former Army Ranger, back from Afghanistan.
Her days are strangely orderly: A repetition of dinners, personal grooming, museum exhibitions, sex, Duane Reades (she likes the sushi), cosmology, sex, gallery shows, nightclubs, heroin, sex, and art films (which she finds soothing). She finds the pattern confirming, but does she really believe it’s sustainable? Or do the barely discernible rifts in her routine suggest that something else is percolating under the surface? Could she have fallen for one of her bankers? Or do those supposed rifts suggest a pattern within the pattern, a larger scheme she’s not showing us, a truth that won’t be revealed until we can see everything?
Some Possible Solutions offers an idiosyncratic series of "What ifs": What if your perfect hermaphrodite match existed on another planet? What if you could suddenly see through everybody's skin to their organs? What if you knew the exact date of your death? What if your city was filled with doppelgangers of you?
Forced to navigate these bizarre scenarios, Phillips' characters search for solutions to the problem of how to survive in an irrational, infinitely strange world. In dystopias that are exaggerated versions of the world in which we live, these characters strive for intimacy and struggle to resolve their fraught relationships with each other, with themselves, and with their place in the natural world. We meet a wealthy woman who purchases a high-tech sex toy in the shape of a man, a rowdy, moody crew of college students who resolve the energy crisis, and orphaned twin sisters who work as futuristic strippers--and with Phillips' characteristic smarts and imagination, we see that no one is quite who they appear.
By turns surreal, witty, and perplexing, these marvelous stories are ultimately a reflection of our own reality and of the big questions that we all face. Who are we? Where do we fit? Phillips is a true original and a treasure.
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by Time Out, Bustle, The Atlantic, Electric Literature, Kobo, Kirkus and more...
"Riveting... thrillerlike...drolly surreal...Ultimately, The Beautiful Bureaucrat succeeds because it isn't afraid to ask the deepest questions." The New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
"A joyride..." -Karen Russell
NAMED A MUST READ OF THE SUMMER by the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Bustle, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, HelloGiggles and more...
A young wife's new job pits her against the unfeeling machinations of the universe in a first novel Ursula K. Le Guin hails as "funny, sad, scary, beautiful. I love it."
In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something known only as The Database. After a long period of joblessness, she's not inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings-the office's scarred pinkish walls take on a living quality, the drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering no explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread.
As other strange events build to a crescendo, the haunting truth about Josephine's work begins to take shape in her mind, even as something powerful is gathering its own form within her. She realizes that in order to save those she holds most dear, she must penetrate an institution whose tentacles seem to extend to every corner of the city and beyond. Both chilling and poignant, The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a novel of rare restraint and imagination. With it, Helen Phillips enters the company of Murakami, Bender, and Atwood as she twists the world we know and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder-luminous and new.