by Anna Metcalfe
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Pub Date 11 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 11 Jul 2023
Random House Publishing Group - Random House, Random House
“Chrysalis is a thrilling look at how we spin silk around ourselves by watching the world on our screens.”—The New York Times Book Review
It was hard to be in the present, she said, but if her body were heavier and more in control, then her thoughts would clear and her mind would recover its power.
What happens when a woman dares to take up space? An enigmatic young woman drastically transforms her body, working to become bigger, stronger, and stiller in the wake of a trauma. We see her through the eyes of three people, each differently mesmerized by her, as they reckon with the consequences of her bizarre metamorphosis. Each of them leaves us with a puzzle piece of who she was before she became someone else.
Elliot, a recluse who notices her at the gym, witnesses her physical evolution and becomes her first acolyte. Bella, her mother, worries about the intense effect her daughter’s new way of life is beginning to have on others, and she reflects on their relationship, a close cocoon from which her daughter has broken free. Susie, her ex-colleague and best friend, offers her sanctuary and support as she makes the transition to self-created online phenomenon, posting viral meditation videos that encourage her followers to join her in achieving self-sufficiency by isolating themselves from everyone else in their lives.
Uncanny, alluring, and intimate, Chrysalis raises vital questions about selfhood and solitude. This daring novel asks if it is possible for a woman to have agency over her body while remaining part of society, and then offers its own explosive answer.
“Deliciously timely…. [Chrysalis] raises questions about all sorts of themes including solitude, influence and agency. The big one is of course: how well do we really know anyone? Metcalfe is a properly clever writer – she moves deftly between the voices of her narrators with ease, while her prose is assured, unforced and almost graceful.”
–AnOther Magazine, “Fiction to Look Out For This Year”
“A master class in character, Chrysalis is an unsettling and brilliant portrait—not just of a woman in transformation or of those who fall into her orbit, but also of a world defined simultaneously by our isolation and by our longing to connect. This is a sharply wrought, surprisingly tender book about how our internal changes create external change, often in ways we didn’t intend.”—Jen Silverman, author of We Play Ourselves
“A beautifully conceived triptych, shining and modern.”—Lillian Fishman, author of Acts of Service
“I just devoured this wonderful, painful, funny novel. Every sentence is full of energy, every description just delicious. I was so struck by the strange loneliness of being in our own heads—this journey to selfhood as a complete internalization, without much interest in a relational existence, except inasmuch as it fosters that transformation. It’s so beautiful and cruel, and summed up just perfectly by the ending. Chrysalis absolutely gave me chills.”—Avni Doshi, author of Burnt Sugar
“Unputdownable, ice-cool, and wittily contemporary, Chrysalis announces Anna Metcalfe as a distinctive and daring fresh literary voice. Utterly original and with shades of Ottessa Moshfegh, Patricia Lockwood, Yoko Ogawa, and Alexandra Kleeman, this brilliant portrayal of desire and transcendence had me totally entranced.”
–Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
“I can’t stop thinking about this incredibly smart and totally unique novel. Ranging from online obsession, to mothers and daughters, to the very nature of selfhood, the whole thing is strange and warm and, crucially, very funny. With shades of Han Kang, Catherine Lacey, and Gwendoline Riley, Metcalfe’s writing is both dissecting and effortless; I savoured every last brilliant sentence.”
–Ruth Gilligan, author of The Butchers’ Blessing