By Nell Zink
Ecco Press, Hardcover, 9780062364777, 256pp.
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
In 1960s Virginia, college freshman and ingenue Peggy falls for professor and poet Lee, and what begins as an ill-advised affair results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. Mismatched from the start she's a lesbian; he's gay Peggy eventually finds herself in crisis and runs away with their daughter, leaving their son behind.
Estranged from the rest of the family, Peggy and her daughter adopt African-American identities and live in near poverty to escape detection. Meanwhile, Lee and his son carry on, enjoying all the social privileges their gender, class, and whiteness afford them. Eventually the long-lost siblings meet, setting off a series of misunderstandings that culminate in a darkly comedic finale.
With an arch sense of humor and a witty satirical eye, Nell Zink upends the foundational categories of American life race, class, gender, and sexuality in a novel that is at once daring, envelope-pushing, and utterly hilarious, all the while tracing how a mother, daughter, father, and son figure out what it means to belong.
The novel's charm and intelligence run deep. It's a provocative masquerade with heart, not just an exercise in role reversals, reminding us that the gaps and cracks between our insides and our outsides are the spaces where our spirits live. The New York Times Book Review
Zink is a comic writer par excellence, one whose particular gift is the capacity to keep a perfectly straight face. The New Yorker
Zink's life story and her fairy-tale path to publication have nothing on the antic sparks of her prose. New York magazine.
In Nell Zink's new book, Mislaid, a young woman marries her male professor. It's 1965. She likes women; he likes men. What follows is a biting satire about gender, race and sexuality. More at NPR.org
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