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April 2019 Fiction: Literary

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
By (author): Andrea Lawlor
9780525566182 Paperback, Trade English General Trade FICTION / Literary Apr 23, 2019
$22.95 CAD
Active 5.15 x 7.97 x 0.73 in 352 pages Vintage
A modern homage to Orlando, set against the backdrop of nineties queer counterculture, following a shapeshifter named Paul on a punk picaresque odyssey. Previously published by a small press, the novel quickly earned high praise and many fans, prompting the author to seek out a larger publisher.

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco—a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.

Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel offers a speculative history of early nineties identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections.

-CANON LITERATURE: This novel was originally published in November 2017 by Rescue Press. After some phenomenal reviews, the book developed such a cult following that Rescue were unable to keep up with the printing. We really view this book as a future entry into the canon of LGBTQ literature, and it deserves a large-scale publication. Already being taught in college courses and included on must-read lists, the book is on its way to becoming a classic.

-AMAZING ACCOLADES: The novel has already garnered high praise from writers such as Eileen Myles and Maggie Nelson. The New Yorker wrote that Lawlor “successfully mixes pop culture, gender theory, and smut.” The novel was also a finalist for the LAMBDA literary awards.

-TOPICAL: An unprecedented interest in identity politics and willingness to challenge gender norms means that this book will resonate with readers. Additionally, it echoes some of the themes in books such as Her Body and Other Parties, which The New York Times hailed as “the new vanguard” of fiction.

-TV: Rights were sold in a “very elite” deal to a top secret (but highly lauded) production company. More details to follow.

-CULT FANDOM: Readers have already fallin in love with this book. One consumer review reads: “a nostalgic trip back to the queer 90s wrapped up in a speculative temporal-space odyssey that inspires a meditation on gender, sex, identity, home, atmosphere, place, and love. Because what else is there?”

Andrea Lawlor teaches writing, edits fiction for Fence, and has been awarded fellowships by Lambda Literary and Radar Labs. Their writing has appeared in various literary journals, including Ploughshares, Mutha Magazine, The Millions, jubilat, The Brooklyn Rail, Faggot Dinosaur, and Encyclopedia, Vol. II. Their publications include a chapbook, Position Papers (Factory Hollow Press, 2016), and a novel, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl.

Author Residence: Western Mass

Author Hometown: Connecticut

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“Groundbreaking, shape- and genre-shifting work from a daring writer; a fresh novel that elevates questions of sexual identity and intimacy.” -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Exploring the malleability of gender and desire, and paying homage to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, the book follows Paul—sometimes Polly—as s/he searches for love and the ’uncontaminated truest’ self. The quest leads through New York City at the height of the AIDS crisis, Iowa City’s queer punk scene, off-season Provincetown, a womyn’s festival in Michigan, and, finally, San Francisco. Lawlor successfully mixes pop culture, gender theory, and smut, but [their] greatest achievement is that Paul is no mere symbol but a vibrantly yearning being, ’like everybody else, only more so.’” - The New Yorker

“A hilarious, original, gender-fluid novel replete with 1990s cachet, sex, and queer identity…a new benchmark for gender-nonconforming literature that introduces the undeniable skill,talent, and originality of new voice in fiction” -Foreword (starred review)

“A witty and raucous portrait of LGBT radicalism during the early 90s….An exhilarating picaresque hero.” -Washington Blade

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