One of today’s most provocative literary writers—the author of the critically acclaimed Sunshine State and the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award finalist Binary Star—captures the confused state of modern romance and the egos that inflate it in a dark comedy about a woman's search for acceptance, identity, and financial security in the rise of Trump.
Nina is a struggling writer, a college drop-out, a liar, and a cheater. More than anything she wants love. She deserves it.
From the burned-out suburbs of Florida to the anonymous squalor of New York City, she eats through an incestuous cast of characters in search of it: her mother, a narcissistic lesbian living in a nudist polycule; Odessa, a single mom with even worse taste in men than Nina; Seth, an artist whose latest show is comprised of three Tupperware containers full of trash; Brian, whose roller-coaster affair with Nina is the most stable “relationship” in his life; and Aaron, an aspiring filmmaker living at home with his parents, with whom Nina begins to write her magnum opus.
Nina’s quest for fulfillment is at once darkly comedic, acerbically acute, and painfully human—a scathing critique of contemporary society, and a tender examination of our anguished yearning for connection in an era defined by detachment.
About the Author
Sarah Gerard is the author of the essay collection Sunshine State, which was longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the novel Binary Star, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her short stories, essays, interviews, and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, T Magazine, Granta, The Baffler, Vice, and the anthologies Tampa Noir, We Can’t Help it if We’re From Florida, and One Small Blow Against Encroaching Totalitarianism. She lives in New York City with her true love, the writer Patty Yumi Cottrell. Find her at Sarah-Gerard.com.
“An unapologetic drama about a woman's insistence on living at the apex of desire and self-destruction—what a rush!”
— Catherine Lacey, author of THE ANSWERS and NOBODY IS EVER MISSING
“Gerard’s prose is unlabored, flatly observational, and the interwoven mini stories are at once tender and cold, exhilarating and regrettable—each undermining the one that precedes it.”
— Nicole Rudick, Paris Review, on Sunshine State
“One of the themes of ‘Sunshine State,’ Sarah Gerard’s striking book of essays, is how Florida can unmoor you and make you reach for shoddy, off-the-shelf solutions to your psychic unease…. The first essay is a knockout, a lurid red heart wrapped in barbed wire.... This essay draws blood.”
— Dwight Garner, New York Times, on Sunshine State
“The distinct nature of Florida and its undeniable, magnetic weirdness shines through somewhere in each essay. Yet, despite its title, that enigma of a state isn’t the focus. Gerard takes a magnifying glass to powerful characters, herself included, and the underlying truths she unravels could apply to any number of Americans. The reader becomes invested in the characters’ lives, at times torn between empathy and disdain, but nonetheless needing to know what becomes of them.”
— Becca Godwin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Sunshine State
“Rhythmic, hallucinatory, yet vivid as crystal. Gerard has channeled her trials and tribulations into a work of heightened reality, one that sings to the lonely gravity of the human body.”
— Jason Heller, NPR, on Binary Star
“The particular genius of 'Binary Star' is that out of such grim material it constructs beauty. It’s like a novel-shaped poem about addiction, codependence and the relentlessness of the everyday, a kind of elegy of emptiness.”
— Martin Riker, New York Times, on Binary Star
“Gerard captures the beauty and scientific irony of damaged relationships and ephemeral heavenly lights. Just as with the stars, it is collapse that offers the most illumination.”
— Heather Scott Partington, Los Angeles Times, on Binary Star