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Brief Description:

A sharply observed, mordantly funny, and startlingly original novel from an exciting, unconventional new voice the author of the acclaimed The Wallcreeper about the making and unmaking of the American family that lays bare all of our assumptions about race and racism, sexuality and desire.

Stillwater College in Virginia, 1966. Freshman Peggy, an ingenue with literary pretensions, falls under the spell of Lee, a blue-blooded poet and professor, and they begin an ill-advised affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. The two are mismatched from the start she s a lesbian, he s gay but it takes a decade of emotional erosion before Peggy runs off with their three-year-old daughter, leaving their nine-year-old son behind.

Worried that Lee will have her committed for her erratic behavior, Peggy goes underground, adopting an African American persona for her and her daughter. They squat in a house in an African-American settlement, eventually moving to a housing project where no one questions their true racial identities. As Peggy and Lee s children grow up, they must contend with diverse emotional issues: Byrdie deals with his father s compulsive honesty; while Karen struggles with her mother s lies she knows neither her real age, nor that she is white, nor that she has any other family.

Years later, a minority scholarship lands Karen at the University of Virginia, where Byrdie is in his senior year. Eventually the long lost siblings will meet, setting off a series of misunderstandings and culminating in a comedic finale worthy of Shakespeare.”


Review Quotes:

“There’s nothing derivative about Nell Zink’s hip, hilarious and unexpectedly moving novel Mislaid… Zink has a genius for making the bizarre seem natural… makes for one of the most satisfying happy endings in recent fiction.”–Wall Street Journal


“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.”–New York Times Book Review


“A writer of extraordinary talent and range. Her work insistently raises the possibility that the world is larger and stranger than the world you think you know. You might not want to believe this, but her sentences and stories are so strong and convincing that you’ll have no choice.”–Jonathan Franzen


“Zink’s capacity for inventions is immense… [ Mislaid] zips along with a giddy, lunatic momentum. It’s perverse wackiness is irresistible; unlike just about everything engineered to make you laugh out loud, Zink’s novel actually does, over and over again… She knows how to let her freak flag fly.”–Bookforum
“Zink’s energy pulses in narration. [She] is original, unsentimental, erudite, and something of a naturalist. Her vocabulary is tremendous [and] her sentences are penetrating and agile.”–Harper’s Magazine
“[Zink] further proves her narrative chops as she spins a darkly satirical story … Zink’s frankness on topics like gender, racial, socioeconomic, and sexual identity politics is refreshing and bold, but it is her strong writing and lucid sentences which truly reel readers in-and keep them there.”–L Magazine


Review Citations:
  • Kirkus Reviews 03/01/2015 (EAN 9780062364777, Hardcover)
  • Library Journal 04/01/2015 pg. 86 (EAN 9780062364777, Hardcover)
  • New York Times Book Review 06/07/2015 pg. 12 (EAN 9780062364777, Hardcover)
  • New York Times Book Review 06/14/2015 pg. 22 (EAN 9780062364777, Hardcover)
  • Shelf Awareness 06/09/2015 (EAN 9780062364777, Hardcover)
  • NY Times Notable Bks of Year 12/06/2015 pg. 26 (EAN 9780062364777, Hardcover)
  • Entertainment Weekly 03/04/2016 pg. 63 (EAN 9780062364784, Paperback)
  • New York Times Book Review 03/06/2016 pg. 28 (EAN 9780062364784, Paperback)
  • Library Journal 08/01/2015 pg. 48 (EAN 9781622317530, Compact Disc)
  • Audio File 02/01/2016 pg. 37 (EAN 9781622317530, Compact Disc) – *Starred Review
  • Publishers Weekly 03/30/2015 (EAN 9780062364791, Other) – *Starred Review
  • Library Journal 04/01/2015 (EAN 9780062364791, Other)

Contributor Bio:

Zink, Nell

Nell Zink grew up in rural Virginia. She has worked in a variety of trades, including masonry and technical writing. In the early 1990s, she edited an indie rock fanzine. Her books include The Wallcreeper, Mislaid, Private Novelist, and Nicotine, and her writing has appeared in n+1, Granta, and Harper’s. She lives near Berlin, Germany.














Paperback, Audio, Hardcover