Lacey, Catherine - Pew
A figure with no discernible identity appears in a small, religious town, throwing its inhabitants into a frenzy In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew. As the town spend the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and pasts to them in one-sided conversations. All the while Pew has brief flashes to what might be past experiences, or lives, but mostly spends their time listening, observing, and thinking. As days pass, the void around Pew’s presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew’s story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths. Pew, Catherine Lacey’s third novel, is a foreboding, provocative, and amorphous fable about the world today: its contradictions, its flimsy morality, and the limits of judging others based on their appearance. With precision and restraint, one of our most beloved and boundary-pushing writers holds up a mirror to her characters’ true selves, revealing something about forgiveness, perception, and the faulty tools society uses to categorize human complexity.
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