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Open Me

English · Paperback / Softback

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A political and erotically-charged debut that follows a young American woman's transformative journey during one pivotal summer abroad hailed by Viet Thanh Nguyen as "unflinching in its portrayal of sex, desire, racism, and the excitement and confusion of youth."

About the author

Lisa Locascio’s work has been published in The Believer, Salon, n+1, Bookforum, Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Los Angeles Review of Books and elsewhere. She is co-publisher of Joyland and editor of 7x7LA. Open Me is her first novel.


“Locascio’s story of a young American abroad is unflinching in its portrayal of sex, desire, racism, and the excitement and confusion of youth. Infused with erotics and politics, this is a novel that will haunt you.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer

Roxana Olsen has always dreamed of going to Paris, and after high school graduation finally plans to travel there on a study abroad program—a welcome reprieve from the bruising fallout of her parents’ divorce. But a logistical mix-up brings Roxana to Copenhagen instead, where she’s picked up at the airport by Søren, a twenty-eight year old guide who is meant to be her steward.  Instantly drawn to one another, Roxana and Søren’s relationship turns romantic, and when he asks Roxana to accompany him to a small coastal town for the rest of the summer, she doesn’t hesitate to accept. There, Roxana’s world narrows and expands as she experiences fantasy, ritual, and the pleasures of her body, a thrilling realm of erotic and domestic bliss. Seduced by this newfound connection, Roxana doesn’t object when Søren requests that she spend her days alone in the apartment while he goes to the library to work.

As their relationship deepens, Søren’s temperament darkens, and Roxana finds herself increasingly drawn to a local outsider, Zlatan, whom she learns is a Muslim refugee from the Bosnian War. The cycle of awakenings sparked by these two relationships challenge and open Roxana in ways she never imagined.

A coming-of-age like no other, from a magnetic new voice in fiction, Open Me is a daringly original and darkly compelling portrait of a young woman discovering her power, her sex, and her voice; and a propulsive exploration of estrangement and what it means to belong.

Additional text

Praise for Open Me

A New York Times Editors’ Choice
One of O Magazine’s “10 Titles to Pick Up Now”

One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of the Year and Most Anticipated for August
An Elle Best Book to Read This Summer
One of Bustle’s 16 New Books You Need To Know
One of Refinery 29’s “Sexiest Books You’ll Ever Have the Pleasure of Reading” and a Best New Book for August
A Village Voice Great Debut Novel of Summer
A Library Journal “Power Debut Novel” (August Fiction Preview)
A Palm Beach Post Sizzling Summer Read

“Locascio is a lovely, imagistic writer, and she’s especially exquisite on the female orgasm, evoking a purple smoke that becomes a motif…Open Me spends nearly as much descriptive time on mucus, crotch odors, and the grime that accumulates in the creases of an unshowered body as it does on the violent beauty of sex—a choice perhaps even more daring that the novel’s nuanced exploration of a teenage girl’s sexual imagination…. Though the framework is familiar Open Me explodes clichés of female sexuality. On sex and love it feels transgressive.”Julie Buntin, New York Times Book Review

"Locascio captures, frankly but lyrically, the heroine’s intense hunger to master her own body and the new world around her."New Yorker

“Locascio manages in this novel to critique white supremacy and false tolerance while also celebrating a young woman’s sexuality and her right to it — a difficult, and often joyous feat that marks her as a remarkable author to keep your eyes on.”—Ilana Masad, NPR

“Hypnotic...thrillingly naughty and politically germane.”—O Magazine

“If you’re looking for a sexy and smart summer read, look no further. In this erotic coming-of-age story, Lisa Locascio explores the female body, politics, and desire.”—The Millions

“This steamy and intellectual debut novel is an ode to the female body, and to a young woman discovering the potential boundlessness of her pleasure.”—Refinery 29,“The Sexiest Books You’ll Ever Have the Pleasure of Reading”

“This one has everything needed for the perfect summer book — thrills, romance, sex, and far-away locales.”—Bustle

“Locascio practically invents a new language, conjuring pure feelings and colors, for their sex…This provocative, intimate, and metamorphosing character study vividly captures a young woman’s life-earned education.” —Booklist

“Imbued with sex and politics, Locascio’s debut novel casts the traditional bildungsroman into a darker, more feminine light… Locascio centers the female body exquisitely. A debut exploring how we open up to others—and, more importantly, ourselves.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Summer is for sexiness, so yield to this coming-of-age novel about a teen whose erotic awakening in Copenhagen circles around two men: an older local and a refugee from the Balkan War.”—Elle

‘The long-awaited debut novel from Lisa Locascio follows the story of a young woman embarking on a long-awaited trip that takes an unpredictable turn. Specifically, it finds the protagonist of this novel venturing to Copenhagen rather than her intended destination of Paris, and the life-changing experiences that await her there.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Open Me will remind you, viscerally, of the heady joys (and terrors) of being 18 and discovering the boundlessness of your pleasure, discovering what your body could do….If you’re seeking an erotic coming-of-age story, this is it.”—Refinery 29, “The Best New Books for August”

“A bildungsroman that’s not merely erotic, but a delicate investigation into migration, belonging, and the female form.”—Village Voice, “5 Great Debut Novels to Help Get You Through This Summer”

“A surprising, bodily coming-of-age story at the intersection of one young American woman’s sexual awakening and the tense political environment in which she finds herself.”—Literary Hub

“Locascio’s story of a young American abroad is unflinching in its portrayal of sex, desire, racism, and the excitement and confusion of youth. Infused with erotics and politics, this is a novel that will haunt you.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer 

“Through the care of her tremendous observations and the beauty of her prose, Lisa Locascio writes a kind of love letter to the female body and all its power and visceral complexity. This is a story of many important layers, but one of the many reasons it remains distinct in my mind is because of its honesty about our complicated, yearning physical selves. A remarkable, fearless debut.”—Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master

“Captivating and darkly clever, Locasio’s debut melds self-discovery and self-abnegation with raw, muscular grace.  By turns beguiling, guileless, and penetratingly felt, this book seethes with eroticism, both physical and emotional—you won’t dare to pry yourself away from it.”—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

“An evocative and compelling remapping of Bluebeard’s Castle for our times. In Open Me, Locascio offers a daring, unapologetic, and vital exploration of female desire.”—Emily Fridlund, author of History of Wolves

Not since Henry James’ Daisy Miller have I been so beguiled by an American abroad. Lisa Locascio’s Roxana Olsen may only be eighteen but she is already a desperate sexual adventurer. Part captivity narrative, part political awakening, Open Me will open you, reminding us that nothing really happens until it happens in the body.”—Darcey Steinke, author of Suicide Blonde

“A lush, evocative novel you won’t be able to put down. Open Me is a masterful debut.”T.C. Boyle, author of The Harder They Come

A Paperback Paris Best New Books of Summer
A Book Riot Favorite Floral Cover

Product details

Authors Lisa Locascio
Publisher Ingram Publishers Services
Languages English
Product format Paperback / Softback
Released 30.06.2019
EAN 9780802129642
ISBN 978-0-8021-2964-2
No. of pages 288
Dimensions 140 mm x 210 mm x 21 mm
Weight 300 g
Subjects Fiction > Narrative literature

Fiction: general & literary, Copenhagen, c 2010 to c 2019, CULTURAL HERITAGE / Scandinavian, Coming of age celebrations / festivals / rituals, Viet Thanh Nguyen;Paris;Denmark;relationship;sexual;desire

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