Mislaid

Mislaid

A Novel

Book - 2015
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LONGLISTED FOR THE 2015 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

A sharply observed, mordantly funny, and startlingly original novel from an exciting, unconventional new voice--the author of the acclaimed The Wallcreeper--about the making and unmaking of the American family that lays bare all of our assumptions about race and racism, sexuality and desire.

Stillwater College in Virginia, 1966. Freshman Peggy, an ing#65533;nue with literary pretensions, falls under the spell of Lee, a blue-blooded poet and professor, and they begin an ill-advised affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. The two are mismatched from the start--she's a lesbian, he's gay--but it takes a decade of emotional erosion before Peggy runs off with their three-year-old daughter, leaving their nine-year-old son behind.

Worried that Lee will have her committed for her erratic behavior, Peggy goes underground, adopting an African American persona for her and her daughter. They squat in a house in an African-American settlement, eventually moving to a housing project where no one questions their true racial identities. As Peggy and Lee's children grow up, they must contend with diverse emotional issues: Byrdie deals with his father's compulsive honesty; while Karen struggles with her mother's lies--she knows neither her real age, nor that she is "white," nor that she has any other family.

Years later, a minority scholarship lands Karen at the University of Virginia, where Byrdie is in his senior year. Eventually the long lost siblings will meet, setting off a series of misunderstandings and culminating in a comedic finale worthy of Shakespeare.

Publisher: New York : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780062364777
Characteristics: 242 pages ;,24 cm

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h
healthy20
Jul 29, 2016

Was supposed to be tongue in cheek, but I evidently did not have the same cheek.

l
llwboston
Feb 06, 2016

The book tells the story of youth from multiple generations, and illustrates how the impulsive choices of young people can have dire and lifelong impact. Nell Zink is very gifted at weaving many narrative threads together and creating diverse, vibrant and wholly believable characters and a sense of how the South changed in the late 20th century. At first I was immediately drawn in by Peggy’s story, but as the book went on I found the judgmental tone of the narrator (sometimes directly telling the reader how to feel) to severely impede my enjoyment. The tone of the book changes and becomes more broadly satirical in the last third or so. In fact it began to remind me of two books, Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, that both also had multiple “culture clash” storylines and satirized contemporary life. Both “Mislaid” and “White Teeth” have tidy happy-ish endings that were somewhat unconvincing. In “Mislaid” so many characters have suffered for years due to one another’s bad decisions,that the final group-wide reconciliation seemed unrealistic.

r
Rock_Shadow
Oct 07, 2015

A good satire on education, college admissions, gays and lesbians, racism, poverty, drugs, living in rural Virginia, guilt and innocence, and rich white people getting away with anything. Easy fun read in the early part of the novel, then if fizzles away. Still a worthy effort of an upcoming young writer.

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Marlowe Jul 02, 2016

This was fantastic. Much in the same vein as Jonathan Franzen and Don Delillo, but lighter and sharper. Zink offers up the most dysfunctional family, with absurd choices and plenty of social commentary. Smart and funny, a highly recommended read!

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