★ “DeNiro’s novel is a lyrical, emotionally powerful story . . . of queer parenthood, of the reality of the sharp fear of trans lives, and of complicated self-discovery.” — Booklist (starred review)
In this playful and aching short novel, an unnamed trans woman is on an epic journey to find the place where she belongs.
As she navigates her many realities, she must wrestle with anxieties and fears about the world. Her son and her ex live in another state. Environmental disasters are being outsourced to the Midwest. She can’t decide whether or not to unbox the companion automaton under her bed. And some of her friends may not just be ghosting her, they might not even be real.
OKPsyche is a fever-pitched odyssey through the joys, fears, and weirdness of trans adulthood, parenthood, and selfhood in the contemporary world.
Anya Johanna DeNiro is a fiction writer and editor living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is the author of City of a Thousand Feelings and the forthcoming short novel OKPysche. Her fiction has been on the Honor Roll for the Otherwise Award, on the shortlist for the O.Henry Award, and a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award. Her stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Catapult, Strange Horizons, DIAGRAM, Asimov's, and Fence.
“An exploration of ensoulment and embodiment, and the search for both, told by a trans woman in lush sink-into-it prose. . . . In our world of violence and fires and floods, of hatred born of fear, of the regular messy tasks of living, DeNiro writes of what it is to locate, again and again, the deepest part inside oneself, with bravery, humility, and grace.” — Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Globe
“The second-person telling lets the reader in on a conversation this character is having with herself as she creates within herself the understanding that she needs: a sort of literary camera obscura that offers glimpses of how she pieces her historically disparate selves together.” — E.C. Barrett, Strange Horizons
“This story contains and covers multitudes. It ties its character to the sticking place, and we are bound as well, by a trans woman’s hopes, desires, losses, and visceral fears of the danger she faces every single day. Those dangers are indeed more real than imagined for a woman who doesn’t pass society’s purity test.” — The Novel Approach
“DeNiro’s novel is a lyrical, emotionally powerful story about what
it means to try and find a place for yourself in the midst of a
hurricane of climate disaster, violence, and fear. It’s a story told
through weird, ghostly, haunting fantasy. Fans of enigmatic speculative
fiction like Our Wives Under the Sea, by Julia Armfield (2022),
will enjoy this tale of queer parenthood, of the reality of the sharp
fear of trans lives, and of complicated self-discovery.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“OKPsyche is a spectacular novel, like a shard of stained glass
in brilliant reds and greens and purples. De Niro shows us the
impossible and the possible with equal honesty. The book is a chronicle
of hope and hurt and freedom, suffused with anxiety and grace, and told
in prose that just won’t quit. It’s major. You’ll remember where you
were when you read it.” — Isaac Fellman, author of Dead Collections
and funny, heartfelt and uncanny, Anya Johanna DeNiro takes us on an
hallucinogenic tour through the mind of a woman on the edge. Guided by
strange angels or losing touch with reality — either way, it’s happening
to you!” — Morgan M. Page, screenwriter of Framing Agnes
"DeNiro has done something beautiful here, weaving a luminous lament for a ruined world with the simmering pain of a woman finally coming to life. Delicate, lovely, and ultimately full of the impossible hope that shines forth in trans lives." — Maya Deane, author of Wrath Goddess Sing
“An allegorical and lyrical short novel about a transgender woman struggling to belong in a near future populated by emotional support robots and a ceaseless slew of environmental disasters. DeNiro writes with a complexity that reflects the internal emotional struggles of her unnamed protagonist as she fights for happiness and a better relationship with her young son. A uniquely told and refreshingly weird story of self-realization and the courage it takes to love.” — Sam Edge, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews, Chapel Hill, NC
"DeNiro (City of a Thousand Feelings) offers a beguiling if somewhat opaque glimpse into a trans woman’s journey to find safety, acceptance, and love in a near-future Minnesota. . . . this is a fascinating and often lovely weird fiction character study." — Publishers Weekly
Praise for Anya DeNiro's writing:
"That trust in emotional urgency over conventional logic to guide a story is, for me, a critical part of a queer aesthetic. Coming out is about obeying an interior, often inarticulable emotional push over majority logics. . . . DeNiro’s gorgeous and emotionally flawless navigation . . . is masterful, cerebral but full of complex feeling, and nothing short of word-magic.” — Theodore McCombs, Fiction Unbound
"Surreal and lyrical.” — Publishers Weekly “What makes the story even more compelling, is that DeNiro gives you all this, allegory and action, without ever losing sight of the heart of the story: the fundamental bond and evolving relationship between two characters who choose different ways to survive, and yet find a greater power, and maybe even a new kind of salvation, when they come together.” — Maria Haskins “Strange, menacing worlds whose contours only gradually become clear (or, perhaps, more complexly mysterious).” —Dylan Hicks, Minneapolis Star Tribune “Minnesotan DeNiro gives us large hunks of riveting weirdness.” —Mary Ann Grossman, St. Paul Pioneer Press “Wildness, fierceness, and anarchic imagination are traits, then, to be prized in this book, above beauty, order, and sense—or, in classical terms, the Dionysian over the Apollonian—and process.” — Strange Horizons “Each story feels new, unique, and important.” —Leah Schnelbach, Tor.com