The Exhibition of Persephone Q

Farrar. Mar. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9780374150921. pap. $26;. F
DEBUT In this puzzling debut novel, Percy is a woman trapped by her own passivity, a woman whose identity has been defined primarily by her relationship to men. She’s married to Misha, but the arrival of an exhibition catalog of photographs by her former fiancé disrupts her insular world. All of the photographs in the collection are of a nude woman, Persephone Q, and Percy suspects that she is that woman. Aimless, directionless, and unsure, Percy wanders Manhattan fretting about her marriage, her unexpected pregnancy, and what she should do about the photographs. Can she prove she is Persephone Q? Should she tell Misha she is pregnant? Percy’s internal monolog travels with her, but despite her many references to Web 1.0, such as Earthlink, AOL, Napster, and, inexplicably, Boolean logic, it doesn’t feel like the early 2000s it’s said to be.
VERDICT Percy’s perspective is so limited and her world so small that readers who don’t identify with her may lose patience. This book’s primary audience will be those interested in the ruminations of an insecure young woman trying to find her way in the world.

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