American Mermaid

Julia Langbein
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"Witty and marvelous"(Andrew Sean Greer), this “sublime” debut (NYTBR) tracks a writer adapting her feminist novel into a screenplay must decide which parts of herself are not for sale in a capitalist world run amok. “I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I loved it” (Elizabeth Gilbert).

Broke English teacher Penelope Schleeman is as surprised as anyone when her feminist, eco-warrior novel American Mermaid becomes a best-seller. But when Hollywood insists she convert her fierce, androgynous protagonist into to a teen sex object in a clamshell bra, strange things start to happen. Is Penelope losing her mind, or has her fictional mermaid come to life, enacting revenge against society’s limited view of what a woman can and should be?  

American Mermaid follows a young woman braving the casual slights and cruel calculations of a winner-take-all society and discovering a beating heart in her own fiction: a new kind of mermaid who will fight to keep her voice and choose her place. Brilliantly sharp, funny and thought-provoking” (Madeline Miller), this “absolute weirdo masterpiece” (Jean Kyoung Frazier)” is “a shapeshifting novel composed of wildly divergent elements [which] succeeds brilliantly” (Tom Perotta).