Recommended by Dora— From Dora Recommends
June 2015 Indie Next List
“Where Zink's debut novel, The Wallcreeper, defied easy plot summary, Mislaid is arguably even more hilariously audacious by shouting its plot so loudly. Peggy knows from an early age that she is a lesbian. Lust being a strange thing, however, she sometimes ends up pregnant by way of her gay poetry professor, Lee. Zink presses every button we're often conditioned to avoid regarding gender, sex, and race and revels in the fluidity of our sense of self. It may very well be the case that the famously elusive novelist Thomas Pynchon has finally been revealed - and he is in fact an American female expat living outside Berlin named Nell Zink.”
— Brad Johnson, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Oakland, CA
In 1960s Virginia, college freshman and ingenue Peggy falls for professor and poet Lee, and what begins as an ill-advised affair results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. Mismatched from the start she's a lesbian; he's gay Peggy eventually finds herself in crisis and runs away with their daughter, leaving their son behind.
Estranged from the rest of the family, Peggy and her daughter adopt African-American identities and live in near poverty to escape detection. Meanwhile, Lee and his son carry on, enjoying all the social privileges their gender, class, and whiteness afford them. Eventually the long-lost siblings meet, setting off a series of misunderstandings that culminate in a darkly comedic finale.
With an arch sense of humor and a witty satirical eye, Nell Zink upends the foundational categories of American life race, class, gender, and sexuality in a novel that is at once daring, envelope-pushing, and utterly hilarious, all the while tracing how a mother, daughter, father, and son figure out what it means to belong.
The novel's charm and intelligence run deep. It's a provocative masquerade with heart, not just an exercise in role reversals, reminding us that the gaps and cracks between our insides and our outsides are the spaces where our spirits live. The New York Times Book Review
Zink is a comic writer par excellence, one whose particular gift is the capacity to keep a perfectly straight face. The New Yorker
Zink's life story and her fairy-tale path to publication have nothing on the antic sparks of her prose. New York magazine.