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The Exhibition of Persephone Q

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Percy is pregnant. She hasn't told a soul. Probably she should tell her husband--certainly she means to--but one night she wakes up to find she no longer recognizes him. Now, instead of sleeping, Percy is spending her nights taking walks through her neighborhood, all the while fretting over her marriage, her impending motherhood, and the sinister ways the city is changing. ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Adam Dalva
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Interesting, idiosyncratic, often captivating book, out this March. I was especially drawn to Jezewska Stevens's language - she is a special talent on the prose level - and the plot's central question is great: is the lead the subject of the nude photographs in her ex-fiance's art exhibition? I love debut novels for their ambition, and was thrilled to see a surprise 3-part structure emerge late.

I do have slight quibbles with the thematic over-usage of pomegranates and a slightly greater issues
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: usa, 2019-read
So let me get this straight: Our protagonist, sleepless, malleable Percy, quit her job at an auction house, now works as a proof reader for a self-help author on intimacy and sex (oh, the symbolism!), and suddenly finds a picture of her naked sleeping self (shown without her head) at the center of an art exhibition by her ex-fiancé, to whom she still refers as her fiancé. She also stops talking to her Bulgarian new economy husband because she suddenly feels the urge to pinch his nose while he's ...more
Paris (parisperusing)
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, debuts, 2020
"It was unsettling to think that so many of the people who mattered in my life didn't believe me when I told them who I was. That is me, I said. It's me in the photographs. No one seemed to value my conviction. I was reminded that the people closest to you suffer from a bias. They get used to your habits, used to your face. They hardly see you at all."

Manhattan, 2001: the towers have fallen, terror strikes the air. Though when thirtysomething Percy Q stirs from her sleep one night to find
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
I seriously did not understand this novel. It started out promising. It had this haunting quality to it, but things quickly started to steer off course halfway through. I felt like I was watching an episode of "The Twilight Zone" but in book form. I enjoy a quirky story when I'm in the mood for one but this was a little too weird. Such a bizarre and head-scratching premise. Everything felt pretentious. The author was trying WAY TOO HARD to sound clever and sophisticated. The main protagonist, ...more
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I imagined the mist, the chill, the vast navy of the ocean, twin wands hovering over the shore. The world was trash. There was never enough. Lower Manhattan built upon it, we shipped whole landfills out to sea, on barges bellowing mighty horns. And yet how much remained for us to sift, to sort. The ghost of shampoo bottles alighted on the shore. One could drown in all this trash
Jessi Jezewska Stevens has created a portrait of a lost woman so unremarkable and pedantic it came out resounding
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modernfiction, newyork, ng
This was an interesting premise, and the narrator's mood is relatable for anyone who has even been avoidant in the face of a major life change (or changes). There were times I found myself skimming a bit, especially over that particularly long internet comment about waxing. The setting in New York immediately after 9/11 also didn't quite fit or ring true to my memories of that time, and I rather wondered why it was necessary to set it then, or any particular time at all.

I read this entirely on a
Nicolaus Stengl
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jessi Jezewska Stevens The Exhibition of Persephone Q is a compelling and strange debut novel. Set against the still smoldering, soot covered trees of Post-9/11 New York City, the novel follows a newly pregnant woman, Percy, a kind of modern Prufrockian heroine, who one night wakes to find that she no longer recognizes her husband, and then attempt to suffocate(?) by pinching his nose. Later, Percy receives a mysterious package that contains a photography art book with photos featuring a ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not exactly bad, but part of the Benjamin Kunkel/Ken Kalfus school: semi-stylish gestures toward meaning, ending up as languid mush.
Stacy Kingsley
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I won this book in a goodreads giveaway, and I was excited to read it, until I read it. The Exhibition of Persephone Q by Jessi Jezewska Stephens sounded promising. A young woman, Percy (not my real name), finds herself pregnant, married, and unable to sleep because she keeps holding her husbands nose closed when he sleeps. Her husband, Misha, has no reaction, and this scares her even more than the fact that she keeps doing it. She does worry that if it keeps going she will end up suffocation ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Agata Rozpedek
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
The book wasnt really my cup of tea. Protagonist mainly just walks at night and makes her life more difficult than it needs to be. ...more
The best way to describe Percy, the narrator and main character, is in the words of her husband Misha: "You work of art". This could be taken in more ways than one... obviously.

Stevens gives us a character in Percy that is quite interesting but also lost and confused as she works her way through a post 9/11 New York City. Married she wakes up one night and looks at her husband Misha sleeping soundly next to her... and somehow does not recognize him. He is different she thinks. She tries to wake
Susan Jaken
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Persephone (Percy) is drifting. The chapters of her life seem unconnected; there are too many fragmented versions of her self. In contrast, there is just one version of a photo of Percy in which she is sleeping nude in her room. Unbeknownst to Percy, an artist creates a series of copies for an exhibition in a NYC gallery. In these photos Percy's original image remains constant whereas the objects in the room and the buildings viewed from the window are serially deleted. Both Percy and the image ...more
Kyra Johnson
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copies
Set in the wake of 9/11 in NYC, Percy finds that she suddenly feels disconnected from her husband. To fend off the urge to suffocate him in his sleep, she finds solace in midnight walks around NYC. Percy floats along, pondering over the nebula growing inside of her that shes kept hidden and her changing body, the responsibilities of motherhood, her relationships with those around her, including her husband, her psychic, a neighbor who mysteriously vanished, and her self-help author employer.

Jaylen Lopez
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a deceptively complex debut novel about identity. Set immediately after 9/11, the narrator, Percy Q, is pregnant and has yet to tell her husband. Instead, she finds herself impulsively pinching his nose while he is asleep, yet this does not wake or suffocate him. Avoiding her husband and her violent impulses, Percy becomes nocturnal, roaming New York while considering her marriage and impending motherhood. Things further unravel when Percy receives a mysterious exhibition catalog in the ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways
Personal rating: 2.5

This book was something that you would read at 3 a.m. at the laundromat. Or in your AP/College freshman English class.

The prose is interesting; it manages to create atmosphere without telling exactly what the main character is seeing/doing/walking through. There are parts of it that I really enjoyed; Part 2 of the story was lovely (even though the subject matter was a little bleak).

This was a story that didn't give a lot of answers, but just kept giving me questions. The
Kathleen Gray
Feb 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Well. Percy is drifting and making unwise decisions. It's post 9/11 NYC and she's feeling alienated from everything, including her poor husband (I felt for the guy). She walks the neighborhood talking to herself and musing about all sorts of things. The fact that her ex-fiance is about to exhibit photos of her naked body (without her head) makes it worse. If you're familiar with the myth of Persephone you might look for its themes- some of the story is here, sort of. Thanks to the publisher for ...more
Jessica Giles
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I was happy to have won this book as a Goodreads Giveaway

I very rarely give up on books simply for it being a bad book, whether that be character, storyline, or writing flaws and this book is no exception. my lack of finishing this book is simply it was not my time to read it. I was not in the correct head space to read a slow burn like this one. I could see its potential however, i lost the gumption about 75 pages in.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
This book is literally just about a woman that is so lost and really I think that a lot of people have that moment in their life where things change and they dont know who they are anymore or what theyre doing or why theyre doing it.

The symbolism that the synopsis promised was lost on me tbh. I just found Percy to be very relatable.
James Beggarly
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book that captures the paranoia and floating unease in the days right after 9/11. A married woman finds out shes pregnant and cant quite figure out how to tell her husband. Her old boyfriend has taken an old picture of her in bed and put it into his gallery show and no one believes the woman when she says thats her. A fun read, as unsettling as it is thoughtful. ...more
Marilynn Farmer
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Im struggling with what to write about this book. I liked it, but not sure why. The protagonist is very odd, yet very relatable at the same time. Sometimes the writing was confusing, sometimes it was blindingly brilliant. The ending is somewhat abrupt and will perhaps be unsatisfying for some. ...more
Kristina Tate
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great satire filled with eccentric characters like a a self-help authpr, a psychic, and a neighbor who disappears. It's funny, entertaining, and makes you think. Also sparse and a quick read!
Faith 09
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Very interesting.
Ashley Simoneau
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. I enjoyed the story & I'm glad that I received a copy of this book through good reads for an honest review.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
I found little of interest in this story
of the angst of an unknowing model.
Luckily, like most models, it was thin.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
magical and sad and i dont want to leave ...more
Liam Kelsey
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an ambitious and well-written debut, which is well worth your time even if certain threads arent resolved by the end of the novel. Lighten up, folks! this is a writer to watch ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
I won this book from the publisher through Goodreads for review. I'm still not sure how to feel about this one, it's a weird book. It's about a pregnant woman...who's losing her mind? Who's depressed? I'm pretty sure it's a fever dream but I'm not mad at it 🤷♀🤔 ...more
MCZ Reads
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-winners
Thank you to Goodreads for my copy of this book!

The Exhibition of Persephone Q, set in post-9/11 NYC, uses the atmosphere of uncertainty and vulnerability to explore questions raised during the time of the Patriot Act that are still relevant in 2020: How does one keep information private in an age of phone tapping and data tracking? To what degree does a person own their identity? How do you mine truth from conflicting beliefs?

The woman at the center of the story is a newlywed who recently
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