If you like the stories of Kelly Link and Carmen Maria Machado but think, hey these could be weirder, then The Book of X is for you. Can you deal with a woman whose torso is twisted into an X? What about a family that farms meat, like they have a meat quarry where the meat grows and they harvest it by cutting it out of the rock? It’s absolutely revolting. Have I lost you yet? IF NOT, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU.
Cassie is our strange heroine, the woman with the X for a torso, just like her mother before her. She wants to leave her small town, find love, community, and a job that fulfills her. Do you think perhaps that giant torso X will make that difficult for her? DO YOU?
Sarah Rose Etter has written this strange and beautiful thing—both a polemic on the demands placed on women’s bodies and a truly moving story. It’s really incredible.
— From Stef's Picks
*Winner of the 2019 Shirley Jackson Awards for Novel
*The Believer Book Awards, 2019: Editors' Longlists in Fiction
*The Northern California 'Golden Poppy' Book Awards 2019, Fiction longlist
*2020 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award Longlist
*A Best Book of 2019 --Vulture, Entropy, Buzzfeed, Thrillist
"Etter brilliantly, viciously lays bare what it means to be a woman in the world, what it means to hurt, to need, to want, so much it consumes everything." --Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist
"I loved every page of this gorgeous, grotesque, heartbreaking novel." --Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
A surreal exploration of one woman's life and death against a landscape of meat, office desks, and bad men.
The Book of X tells the tale of Cassie, a girl born with her stomach twisted in the shape of a knot. From childhood with her parents on the family meat farm, to a desk job in the city, to finally experiencing love, she grapples with her body, men, and society, all the while imagining a softer world than the one she is in. Twining the drama of the everyday -- school-age crushes, paying bills, the sickness of parents -- with the surreal -- rivers of thighs, men for sale, and fields of throats -- Cassie's realities alternate to create a blurred, fantastic world of haunting beauty.
About the Author
Sarah Rose Etter is the author of Tongue Party, and The Book of X, her first novel, which is the winner of the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award for novel. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, BOMB, Gulf Coast, The Cut, VICE, and more. She has been awarded residences at the Jack Kerouac House, the Disquiet International program in Portugal, and the Gullkistan Writing Residency in Iceland. In 2017, she was the keynote speaker at the Society for the Study of American Women Writers conference in Bordeaux, France, where she presented on surrealist writing as a mode of feminism. She earned her B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and her M.F.A. in Fiction from Rosemont College. She lives in Austin, TX.