Bookshop Santa Cruz welcomes Lisa Locascio for a reading and signing of her evocative novel, Open Me—the final event in our Debuts of Summer series.
Roxana Olsen has always dreamed of going to Paris, and after high school graduation finally plans to travel there on a study abroad program—a welcome reprieve from the bruising fallout of her parents’ divorce. But a logistical mix-up brings Roxana to Copenhagen instead, where she’s picked up at the airport by Søren, a twenty-eight-year-old guide who is meant to be her steward. Instantly drawn to one another, Roxana and Søren’s relationship turns romantic, and when he asks Roxana to accompany him to a small town in the north of Denmark for the rest of the summer, she doesn’t hesitate to accept. There, Roxana’s world narrows and opens as she experiences fantasy, ritual, and the pleasures of her body, a thrilling realm of erotic and domestic bliss. She is so enamored by her cohabitation and intense connection with Søren that at first, she almost doesn’t notice that he does not give her a key to the apartment, leaving her locked in each day while he works in the library on his African-American literature thesis.
As their relationship deepens, Søren’s temperament darkens, revealing his depression, anxiety and prejudices. Roxana finds herself increasingly drawn to a local outsider, in many ways Søren’s polar opposite, whom she learns is a Bosnian Muslim refugee from the Balkan War. When she decides to sneak out to find him her experiences open in a way she could never have imagined.
An erotic coming-of-age like no other, Open Me is a daringly original and darkly compelling portrait of a young woman discovering her power, her sex, and her voice; and an incisive examination of xenophobia, migration, and what it means to belong.
Lisa Locascio’s work has been published in The Believer, Salon, n+1, Bookforum, Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Los Angeles Review of Books and elsewhere. She is co-publisher of Joyland and editor of 7x7LA. Lisa was born in Chicago and raised in River Forest, Illinois, and received her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature and MA in English Literature from the University of Southern California. She currently teaches creative writing at Wesleyan. Open Me is her first novel.
“Locascio’s story of a young American abroad is unflinching in its portrayal of sex, desire, racism, and the excitement and confusion of youth. Infused with erotics and politics, this is a novel that will haunt you.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer
“Through the care of her tremendous observations and the beauty of her prose, Lisa Locascio writes a kind of love letter to the female body and all its power and visceral complexity. This is a story of many important layers, but one of the many reasons it remains distinct in my mind is because of its honesty about our complicated, yearning physical selves. A remarkable, fearless debut.”—Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master
“Captivating and darkly clever, Locascio’s debut melds self-discovery and self-abnegation with raw, muscular grace. By turns beguiling, guileless, and penetratingly felt, this book seethes with eroticism, both physical and emotional—you won’t dare to pry yourself away from it.”—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“A lush, evocative novel you won’t be able to put down. Open Me is a masterful debut.” —T.C. Boyle, author of The Harder They Come
This free event will take place at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Chairs for open seating are usually set up an hour before the event begins.