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“There is no one else at work on the American scene like her.”
—Laird Hunt, National Book Award finalist and author of Zorrie
In a dystopic future of unregulated gene editing, a woman named Emily wakes up on the wrong side of the universe as an octopus thanks to rogue “designer genes” run amok. One of thousands of clones generated from a genetic code sequenced from a lock of hair saved from the original Emily Dickinson, the ersatz Emily resembles an octopus but harbors the soul of a human poet and navigates her life in a lagoon as a bumbling “rogue soul” enamored of black spice cake, botanical monographs, and gingerbread recipes, while romanced by personified moonlight.
Karen An-Hwei Lee, whose marvelous mind gave us Kafka — weird as ever and wonderfully alive — in twenty-first century Los Angeles and then a post-apocalyptic data cloud on a quest for the keys to happiness, outdoes herself with this brilliant head bend of a book. Love Chronicles of the Octopodes chronicles the adventures of one Emily D, octopus extraordinaire whose signal genetic material can be traced back to a certain legendary poet from Amherst but whose verve and swerve are all her own. Which is to say that Emily D is an original. As is Lee. There is no one else at work on the American scene like her.” —Laird Hunt, author of Zorrie
“If David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress were spliced with My Octopus Teacher and Rachel Carson’s Sea Trilogy, it might come close to producing Emily, an inquisitive, ‘accidental’ octopus with a penchant for spice cake and philosophical ruminations on the fate of rogue genomes and the enigma that is our souls. Singular and shimmering.” —Lisa Hsiao Chen, author of Activities of Daily Living
“To be submerged in the gorgeous songfulness of Karen An-hwei Lee’s science fiction is to find oneself metamorphosing into a novel life form. I woke up from the dreamscapes of this book with exclamation marks in my brain and a new, tentacular, bioluminescent sense of possibility.” —Seo-Young Chu, author of Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep? A Science-Fictional Theory of Representation
By a peaceful lagoon fringed with banana trees and kelp, safe and quiet in a little house with a rolltop desk and plenty of baked goods, a poet lives named Emily D. (“The letter D stands for dystopia, dysfunction, dysphagia, dyschronology, dyspnea, or dyspepsia.”)….Lee’s confident, graceful, and richly poetic writing expands the strange, dreamlike narrative in all directions at once, like slow outward ripples of water. The result is a lyrical meditation on art, science, and consciousness that readers won’t soon forget.—Publisher’s Weekly