(I wrote another novel)
The last time I published a book the world shut down. Not related! I promise! Though the joke is that this time I won’t cause any disasters, pandemic or otherwise. Anyway, I’m glad that the world has recovered just enough to become more fully diseased in other ways…
The Visitors: a little origin story
The Visitors is my second novel, and it’s out on June 7. I started it in 2018, but I rewrote most of it during those early days of the pandemic, when I found myself becoming a lot like the protagonist of my first novel, The Exhibition of Persephone Q, which was published in March….2020. The news, if you recall, was pretty terrible. I dealt with it becoming a little nocturnal myself. I had to be awake during after-school hours to tutor test prep and teach fiction over Zoom, but otherwise I started writing when my corner of the internet was quiet and no one else was up to text me about not touching my face. I’d go for a run or a walk around midnight as a break. (Wherever you were living at the time, you probably remember the sirens at that hour, too.)
I’ve since moved away from New York. It’s strange to think back on those very quiet, very isolated hours when I was drafting The Visitors, and even stranger to think it’s out next week. Do things change or mostly stay the same…?
News, articles, and events
In any case, you can read an excerpt from the opening chapters here in Granta magazine. The New York Times gave The Visitors a pre-pub shout out here, and Tor featured it in its most-anticipated list here. I did a little pay-walled interview with the Wall Street Journal here. I also have an essay on radical climate activism and updating the US national grid for renewable energy in the most recent (print) issue of The Nation; my interest came from a subplot in the novel that revolves around an eco-hacktivist group trying to, well, take the grid down. I’m told actual reviews are coming soon. Please read them for me and tell me the nice parts. (Hopefully there are nice parts.)
I’m doing a reading tonight in Brooklyn at Powerhouse Arena, and the official book launch (in conversation with critic Christian Lorentzen) is on June 8th, 7:30pm at Greenlight Bookstore (Flatbush Ave location). A full list of events is below, but if you’re not in one of these cities, my conversation with novelist and recent Pulitzer-Prize winner Joshua Cohen will stream online on June 13th. Across the pond, this bookstore in Norwich will be Visitors-themed for the UK’s Independent Bookshop Week.
Finally, a lot of posts on this Substack came out of the thinking I was doing while drafting The Visitors, especially this one on internet novels, this one on systems novels, and this one on the efficient market hypothesis. I guess you could call The Visitors a systems novel or an internet novel or a finance novel–or else, like most things I write, a love story. But who trusts an author on her own book?? Come to one of the events below instead.
Thanks for reading, for preordering online or at your local bookstore, and for spreading the word.
June 8 - New York - 7:30pm
Greenlight Bookstore (Flatbush Avenue) w/ Christian Lorentzen
632 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225. Register here.
June 13 - Online - 4:00pm PT / 7:00pm EST Hosted by Third Place Books (Seattle) / Community Bookstore (Brooklyn) / Exile in Bookville (Chicago) - in conversation w/ Joshua Cohen Register here.
June 23 - Boston - 7:00pm Porter Square Books w/ Becca Rothfeld 25 White St. Cambridge, MA 02140. Register here.
July 14th - Berlin - 6:30pm Hopscotch Reading Room w/ Nina Kunz & Berlin Writers Workshop Kurfürstenstraße 14/Haus B, 10785 Berlin. Link.
‘Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s frighteningly brilliant new novel The Visitors is both a bold reimagining of the recent past and an all-too-likely prophecy of what's to come. Caustic, intimate, and consistently surprising, this novel cements Stevens’s place as one of the great chroniclers of our cruel and terrifying times.’
‘This book is a speedball, with lines as beautifully sad and weary as John Berryman's lines, and a premise as wild and lit as one of Philip K. Dick's premises. Stevens is a writer who makes you want to slow down and read each sentence carefully, even as you want to race forward and see what happens.’
‘One of my favorite writers has written another imaginative and attentive marvel. The Visitors is about business: the business of staying alive, the business of being with others, the business of staying sane, and the business of business.’
‘The Visitors is such a unique gem of a novel—an intimate and affecting character study that is somehow also a DeLillo-esque container for diamond-sharp insights into big data, eco-terrorism, and the subprime mortgage crisis—that, like the garden gnome who haunts its protagonist, I’m half-convinced it couldn’t possibly exist. But it does, and it is dazzling, and Stevens' readers are incredibly lucky to have it.’