Payback: A Novel (Hardcover)
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A novel of lifelong reckoning between two women
Unbeknownst to her many fans, Quin Archer, the revenge-loving queen of the reality-TV show PAYBACK, was once an angry teen named Heidi. Her true story may be known only to Agnes, who was her art teacher at a private New England girls' school in the 1970s. Then a young woman herself, Agnes saw a spark of originality in the brooding Heidi. But when she suggests Heidi visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the girl returns with a disastrous account of having been picked up at the museum by an older man. Agnes's stunned response will haunt both women for decades.
Mary Gordon narrates this tale of #MeToo misunderstanding, from a time before there was language to contain it, with a sharp sense of life's changing tempo. She carries us through Heidi's disappearance and reinvention as Quin, and Agnes's escape into career and family in Italy--until, inevitably, they meet again. A remarkable book about the precise weight of our words and deeds from a writer whose moral vision is deeply rewarding in its subtlety.
About the Author
MARY GORDON is the author of nine novels, including There Your Heart Lies, Final Payments, Pearl, and The Love of My Youth; six works of nonfiction, including the memoirs The Shadow Man and Circling My Mother; and three collections of short fiction, including The Stories of Mary Gordon, which was awarded the Story Prize. She teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York City.
“Gordon creates finely nuanced moral quandaries and explores the deep toxicity of sexism with scintillating energy and piercing inquisitiveness . . . Every facet of this psychologically and sensuously lush novel about damage and nurture, altruism and selfishness, disorder and art, privacy and meaningful work, sexual violence and blame, hate and forgiveness poses profound questions about womanhood, how one lives one’s life, what truly matters, and what we owe others.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Excellent . . . Contrasts the 1970s world of upper-class women’s education with the #MeToo era . . . Gordon nails period details and vividly describes her characters’ worlds, whether they are restoring a work of art or raising a daughter. This mesmerizing novel hits hard.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)