On the eve of the Occupy Wall Street protests, C is flat broke. Once a renowned textile artist, she’s now the sole proprietor of an arts supply store in Lower Manhattan. Divorced, alone, at loose ends, C is stuck with a struggling business, a stack of bills, a new erotic interest in her oldest girlfriend, and a persistent hallucination in the form of a rogue garden gnome with a pointed interest in systems collapse . . .
C needs to put her medical debt and her sex life in order, but how to make concrete plans with this little visitor haunting her apartment, sporting a three-piece suit and delivering impromptu lectures on the vulnerability of the national grid? Moreover, what's all this computer code doing in the story of her life? And do the answers to all of C's questions lie with an eco-hacktivist cabal threatening to end modern life as we know it?
Replaying recent history through a distorting glass, The Visitors is a mordantly funny tour through through a world where not only civic infrastructure but our darkest desires (not to mention our novels) are vulnerable to malware; where mythical creatures talk like Don DeLillo; where love is little more than a blip in our metadata. It peers into How We Got Here and asks What We Do Next, charting the last days of a broken status quo as the path is cleared for something new.
“[A] mordantly funny requiem for the early 21st century . . . The odd touch of magic does nothing to diminish the story’s uneasy relevance to the contemporary state of affairs. Fans of such paranoia masters as DeLillo and Pynchon should give this a look.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“The Visitors is a slim book with a lot going on. . . The book accepts, and even delights in, the strenuous absurdity of its characters’ efforts to index the relationship between the virtual and the material, or to locate the source of reality in imagination.” —Daisy Hildyard, The Guardian
“The Visitors is conceptually bold. Stevens threads through needles of political theory so deftly you barely feel them piercing the brain. Her work calmly suggests this: the apocalypse is coming for us all, baby—so, what are you doing about it?” —Annie Hayter, The Big Issue
“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.” —Andrew Martin
“In Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s timeless novel, The Visitors, nothing is as it seems, everything is in motion, and progress and decay are simultaneous. Amid credit scores and talking spectres, revolutionary impulses and the indissoluble truths found in a lifelong friendship, Stevens paints a brilliant and richly captivating portrait of an artist teetering between her own past and an American collapse happening in real time. Stevens’s intimacy with history borders on the telepathic. The Visitors is transcendent and astounding in every way.” —Michael Zapata
“Jessi Jezewksa Stevens's scalpel-fine prose—slicing with wit and pathos—belies the bewildering scope of The Visitors, which lays bare everything from the audacity of modern finance to the visceral costs of debt, love, and success. Yet while collapse looms nigh, every page beams with defiant jubilance and gut-punch insights. Equal parts revelatory and moving, The Visitors cuts to the core of the delusion and disillusionment of our era.” —Jakob Guanzon
“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.” —Adam Wilson
“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.” —Benjamin Nugent
“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.” —Rivka Galchen
“An orgy of synaptic firing and flourish, The Visitors is a novel of longing, lostness, and late capitalism told with roving imagination and warmth.” —Tracy O’Neill
“Jessi Jezewska Stevens has created a parallel timeline as tumultuous and dread-inducing as our own, yet somehow this distorted reality reveals more about the preoccupations of existing than it's lived counterpart ever could. Part time capsule, part user manual, and part hallucinatory malware, The Visitors will still be with you long after the lights have gone out.” —Josie Smith, Greenlight Bookstore
“What would you do if an interrogating gnome appeared in your apartment one morning and never left? If you are C, the artist-protagonist of Jessi Jezewska Stevens’ enthralling novel, The Visitors, you constantly question whether your gnome is real or imagined, all while operating a NYC art supply store, mourning the end of your marriage and your fertility, hiding from personal bankruptcy, and longing for a romantic relationship with your oldest friend, Zo. Apart from C’s personal troubles, a terrorist group called GoodNite is destroying city power grids and staging protests around the world. Stevens fully immerses readers into C’s world, exploring the artist’s relationship to her craft, how loneliness exploits our deepest fears and vulnerabilities, the affection and jealousy between childhood girlfriends, and the permanent scar of immigrant trauma. A clever, thought-provoking novel that is as surprising as it is satisfying.” —Lori Feathers, Interabang Books
“Stevens' writing is vicious and cerebral, an enthralling combination. she has a lovely knack of hinting and alluding to goings-on elsewhere (the best kind of narration, imho). a cynical sophomore novel that deserves all the praise it will no doubt receive.” —Doug Riggs, Bank Square Books
Praise for The Exhibition of Persephone Q
“Finally a book that exposes how dull Occam’s Razor has become after all these years. Adroitly crafted, The Exhibition of Persephone Q is a fun, urbane look at the faulty heuristics of perception and authenticity. Proof positive that in the age of Photoshop and Trumpian Denialism, the simplest explanation no longer applies.” —Paul Beatty
“With a voice both lucid and searching, Jessi Jezewska Stevens depicts the great illogic of love, as well as all the small, strange quiddities of being a body in a material and virtual world. Lit up with melancholy, humor, and perfect oddness, this remarkable debut casts an afterglow long after its final pages.” —Hermione Hoby
“Jessi Jezewska Stevens's The Exhibition of Persephone Q is a captivating portrait of urban solitude, by turns strange, poignant, and poetic.” —Chloe Aridjis
“A triumph of tone and intelligence. Percy Q’s perspective is skewed and searching at once, and through her eyes, we see afresh not only New York's post-9/11 landscape but also the world of art, and love, and the process of becoming.” —Rivka Galchen
“An intimate and obsessive exploration of the act of seeing and the act of being seen. It’s also a metaphysical detective story, an investigation of absence and voids, and a darkly comedic treatise on the art world and living in a series of apartments and rooms in New York . . . The Exhibition of Persephone Q mostly reminded me of taking a walk at night alongside a brilliant companion who has a keen mind, and an eye for absurdity.” —Patrick Cottrell, The Believer
“Stevens’ debut is a compelling and visually rich novel that explores alienation in all its forms. The book’s poetic language and realistically absurd characters will keep readers intrigued until the final page.” —Leah von Essen, Booklist