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The Pisces

by Melissa Broder

Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

The Pisces Synopsis


Lucy has been writing her dissertation for nine years when she and her boyfriend have a dramatic break-up. After she hits rock bottom, her sister in Los Angeles insists that Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Staying in a gorgeous house on Venice Beach, Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety - not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the dog's easy affection. Everything changes when she becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy's understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn.

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The Pisces Press Reviews

Of all the books that I read this summer I think this was my absolute favourite. It really blew me away. Phenomenally written. [Broder's] writing is so creative and can be so abstract and so unexpected while also being so universal and earthy and funny. It was raw and powerful and it made me cry -- Dolly Alderton, The High Low Bizarrely brilliant. What should you be reading this summer? A tragi-comic interspecies love story with undertones of ancient Greek philosophy and sex-positive feminism. Obviously - The Times

A novel that has such depth, and so many layers. If it doesn't make its way onto your list of books to read, then you're probably doing summer wrong - Erotic Review

One of the must-reads of the season -- Elle, Ultimate Summer Books Round-Up Witty, sharp and painfully insightful. Looking for a smart summer read? This is it - The Pool

A frank, provocative, and brilliant debut that blends fantasy with realism as Broder examines just how unusual a shape love can take -- The debut novelists to know this year - Independent

Strangely, almost uncomfortably, addictive. This book appeals to the Bridget Jones in all of us, searching for true love and unhealthily influenced by fairytales. It's a fusion of the fantastical and the real with a sprinkling of the erotic, and is both beautifully written and darkly comic - Stylist

Literary erotica merges with magical realism and black humour in this extraordinary debut novel about a dejected young woman's night-time liaisons with a merman. Strong stuff, but it's spreading quickly through word of mouth, making it summer's cool read to be spotted with - You Magazine

In Broder's charmingly kooky debut novel, a depressed Ph.D. student chances upon her dream date - and he's half fish. Broder approaches the great existential subjects as if they were a collection of bad habits. That's what makes her writing so funny, and so sad -- Editors' Choice Picks, New York Times Book Review In this dark, physical tale, an academic writing her dissertation on Sappho moves to Venice Beach, where, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, she falls in love with a merman. Broder's novel is a feverish - and often quite graphic - exploration of fantasy and desire, and the extremes to which they can take us. (And how, ultimately, nothing can match a dog's love.) It's simultaneously hilarious, sinister and utterly mesmerising - Tatler

Blazes with vibrancy ... The book's power lies in its ability to be many things at once: a howl of anguish and existential despair, a psychological drama, a fairytale, fish porn ... Resembles the new wave of female authors taking a much needed swing at the societal myths surrounding conformity and normativity, from Chris Kraus to Leila Slimani - Financial Times

An incisive look at modern love. Just brilliant. We absolutely loved it! -- Pandora Sykes, The High Low This is love in the age of consumer capitalism, and Broder is pin-sharp on its disillusionments ... In a culture like this, who could resist the siren call of a non-human creature who is fulfilled and complete in himself? ... It's a knife-tip dissection of 21st-century anomie, and its clear-sighted depiction of muddy-headed people makes for bracing reading - like a dip in the freezing, salty sea - Guardian

What makes The Pisces an experimental, exciting work is that Ms. Broder manages to knead together the genres of magical realism - Theo, the merman, is always presumed to be real; no apparitions here - and literary erotica, all with a bemused, wry detachment ... In recounting one woman's star-crossed relationship with a folkloric beau, Ms. Broder has crafted a modern-day mythology for women on the verge - if everything on the surface stops making sense, all you need to do is dive deeper - New York Times

The Pisces convincingly romances the void -

Broder deftly catches the victims of victimhood in her satirical glance, but she also recognises frailty when she sees it ... The book has great momentum, like waves hitting the rocks ... Part satire, part fairy tale and, sometimes jarringly, part meditation on addiction - New York Times Book Review

Bizarre, erotic and mordantly funny, this is the story of a heartbroken student's romantic obsession with a merman. This explosive fantasy is one of the most original debuts to come out this year - Book Riot

Broder may be master of the awkward sexual encounter but it turns out she's a dab hand at proper erotica, too ... The Pisces is so much more than fantasy; it's an unflinching exploration of one woman's fragile mental health - Refinery 29

Broder is just as hilarious as she is wrenchingly honest - Elle Book Club

A peerless combination of heartbreak and horniness, this novel's journey through the surreal throes of desire is a trip you'll want to take again and again -- Alissa Nutting, author of 'Made for Love' No one writes about love like Melissa Broder ... This is a book for every smart person who has made very bad decisions -- Melissa Febos, author of 'Abandon Me' The characters in The Pisces are so finely drawn and palpably real. These are some of the most real, relatable merman sex scenes I have ever read in any book -- Megan Amram, comedian and writer of Parks & Recreation, Silicon Valley and The Good Place This book has my number so hard, I'm waiting for its midnight texts -- Amelia Gray, author of 'Isadora' Broder wraps timeless questions of existence - those that gods and stars have been beseeched to answer for millennia - in the weirdest, sexiest, and most appealing of modern packaging. Brilliant and delightful -- Starred Review - Booklist

Melissa Broder has officially written the modern myth -- Molly Prentiss, author of 'Tuesday Nights in 1980' Honestly, read this book and you'll be totally swept up in its brilliant writing and bizarre premise. You'll never look at the beach in quite the same way -- Unmissable Books to Read This Spring - Stylist

Sappho and Tinder, mermaid porn and nervous breakdowns, the banal and the bananas gloriously litter this uncanny marvel that is pretty impossible to put down -- Porochista Khakpour, author of 'Sick: A Memoir' Fearless writing, merrily mixing Sappho and bikini waxes, Greek myths and self-help, and with the most brutally honest sex scenes I've read in a long time -- Kerry Andrew, composer and author of 'Swansong' This book is for anyone that's wondered where their longing will take them next -- Chelsea Hodson, author of 'Tonight I'm Someone Else' Bold, virtuosic, addictive, erotic - there is nothing like The Pisces. Between a broken-up Sappho academic and a Venice-beach merman, Melissa Broder miraculously captures everything absurd and pure about falling in love. I have no idea how Broder does it, but I loved every dark and sublime page of it -- Stephanie Danler, author of Bittersweet Funny and dark, vicious and tender, The Pisces is a sexy and moving portrait of a woman longing for connection and pleasure in our strange and alienating world. I can't stop thinking about it -- Edan Lepucki, author of Woman No. 17 The Pisces has everything - devastating honesty about love, intimacy and loneliness, tonally perfect writing, propulsive plotting, laugh out loud hilarity, and genuinely hot sex with a merman -- Emily Gould, author of `Friendship' Fearless and perverted, full of desolation and of hope, The Pisces is a novel that delves head on into the many dark, absurd facets of human connection and coping in search of meaning and comes back bearing fantastic flashes of a twisted rom-com surreality only Melissa Broder's gemstone-studded brain could conjure up -- Blake Butler, author of 'There Is No Year' It's hot, it's fantastical, and it's snort-inducingly funny. I can't get enough of this book - Whimn

Melissa Broder lays herself bare but she does so with strength, savvy, and style. Above all, these essays are sad and uncomfortable and their own kind of gorgeous. They reveal so much about what it is to live in this world, right now -- Praise for 'So Sad Today', Roxane Gay If Melissa Broder weren't so fucking funny I would have wept through this entire book. Love, sex, addiction, mental illness and childhood trauma all join hands and dance in a circle, to the tune of Melissa's unmatched wit and dementedly perfect take on this terrifying orb we call home -- Praise for 'So Sad Today', Lena Dunham A triumph of unsettlingly relatable prose -- Praise for 'So Sad Today' - Vanity Fair

Her writing is deeply personal, sophisticated in its wit, and at the same time, devastating ... A portrait of modern day existence told with provocative, irreverent honesty -- Praise for 'So Sad Today' - Nylon

What separates Broder from her confessional cohort, as filthy (her word) as her pieces are, is that she doesn't seem to be out to shock, but to survive -- Praise for 'So Sad Today' - Elle

Witty and observant ... [Broder] is unflinchingly honest about the privileges and problems facing adults today - Jewish Chronicle

If you haven't yet read something by Melissa Broder, you are truly missing out - Shondaland

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781408890950
Publication date: 21/03/2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408890950
Publication date: 21st March 2019
Author: Melissa Broder
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Genres: Literary Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Melissa Broder

Melissa Broder is the author of the essay collection So Sad Today and four poetry collections, including Last Sext. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize for poetry, she also writes the 'So Sad Today' column at Vice, the astrology column for Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter and the 'Beauty and Death' column on She lives in Los Angeles. / @melissabroder / @sosadtoday

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