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Biography, Literature & Literary studies


by Feltman, Amy

A soul-piercing debut that explores the ways that past and present intertwine, queerness, and coming of age in uncertain times.

Willa and Hesper's love story spans the world from New York to Tbilisi and Berlin. The two women fall in love in a flash, and New York City becomes the backdrop for the intimate and intense scenes of their romance. But when their romance ends, Willa and Hesper each seek some resolution abroad by discovering their own family histories. Hesper travels with her family to her ancestral homeland of Georgia, and Willa explores Germany with a Jewish group dedicated to remembrance of the Holocaust.

In poetic, episodic chapters, talented debut author Amy Feltman explores modern female identity, the tangle of family memories, and rich emotional landscapes of romance and history.

Hailed by author Laura van den Berg as "a striking new talent," Amy Feltman received her M.F.A. in Fiction from Columbia University in 2016 and now works at Poets & Writers Magazine. Her stories have been published in numerous literary journals, and her short story, "Speculoos," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016 and was long-listed for Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers. An excerpt from "Willa and Hesper" appeared in Cosmonauts Avenue. She was a semi-finalist for the 2015 Disquiet Literary Prize and attended the Disquiet Literary Conference in Lisbon, where she studied with Alexander Chee. She has published interviews with Ali Smith, Laura van den Berg, Heidi Julavits, Nell Zink, and Miranda July, in publications like The Believer, The Rumpus, and The Millions. At Columbia University, she studied with Heidi Julavits, Sheila Heti, Karolina Waclawiak, Porochista Khakpour, Sonya Chung, Christine Schutt, and Stacey D'Erasmo, among others.

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Willa & Hesper is a novel with a beating heart, a love story that is also an intricate love affair with time, history, religion and inheritance. In fresh and captivating prose, and spanning three vibrantly rendered countries, Amy Feltman's debut enthralled me.

Quote: Chloe Benjamin, author of The Immortalists

Willa & Hesper crystallizes a truth that haunts any of us who yearn to fall in loveour ability to be close to another person is always shaped by our secrets, our memories, our familial past. This debut is tender and tough, startlingly intimate,yet attuned to the larger troubles of our current political moment. A moving portrait of two young women, reckoning with themselves and their world, in hopes of finding their way back to one another.

Quote: Naima Coster, author of Halsey Street

A lyrical, timely story about love, heartbreak, and healing. Willa & Hesper explores religion, queerness, what it means to live in today's world in a female body, and the meaning of family in tight, absorbing prose. A beautiful debut by a striking new voice.

Quote: Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me

[G]entle and sweeping... From Willa and Hesper, readers may see how relationships between twentysomethings, even when brief, have the potential to inspire unimaginable self-discovery... Feltman's novel is as titillating and tense as the experience of young adult love.

Review: Booklist

This is the queer, coming of age, complicated love story I've been wanting to read for years. I wish I knew Willa and Hesper when I was in my twenties, though I still don't know whose side I'd take after their break-upboth are strange and smart and compelling.

Quote: Katie Heaney, author of Would You Rather and Never Have I Ever

...thoughtful and fascinating debut... Feltman stays away from happy ending conventions and skillfully weaves glimmers of hope and healing throughout, making for a keenly perceptive novel.

Review: Publishers Weekly

Amy Feltman's debut novel is a joy to read, thrumming with inventive, playful language and filled with characters so finely drawn that they'll feel all too familiar. Willa and Hesper struggle to make sense of the histories, cities, traumas, and families that have shaped themthey struggle, in other words, to grow up. But in Feltman's hands, that universal tale feels utterly fresh and absorbing. With a sharp eye for detail and a lush sense of place whether we're in New York or Tbilisi, she has written an unforgettable story about love, grief, identity, and belonging.

Quote: Angelica Baker, author of Our Little Racket

At once bittersweet and sharply funny, Willa & Hesper is a lovely meditation on how the trauma of the past intertwines with the future, fashioning our worldview no matter how hard we resist. Amy Feltman has a genius for imbuing the most specific of details with universal emotions. Both protagonists are urgently, imperfectly real, and you will miss them as much as they miss one another once their story is done.

Quote: Julia Fine, author of What Should Be Wild

The result is a deep and intimate portrait of two queer women in their mid-20s who come of age in New York while navigating - or refusing to navigatetheir relationships to privilege, family, identity, and faith. What could be a novel about an intense attraction that falls apart is, in Feltman's hands, a bigger story about how people change us - and how we welcome or resist that change. A moving glimpse into 21st-century queer womanhood.

Review: Kirkus

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