A young woman traveling abroad gets far more than she bargained for.
Imbued with sex and politics, Locascio’s debut novel casts the traditional bildungsroman into a darker, more feminine light. In the wake of her parents’ divorce, 18-year-old Roxana can't wait for her pre-college study-abroad trip to Paris. Shortly before her departure, the travel agency informs her that while she can no longer go to Paris, she has been offered a spot in their Copenhagen program. With an eye on adventure and a need to escape, Roxana accepts the offer. Shortly after arriving, she falls into a passionate relationship with Søren, her older, mysterious tour guide. When Søren invites her to spend the summer in rural Denmark, she says yes. In the empty, white apartment, Roxana begins to explore the pleasures of her body with and without Søren. While Søren becomes more unpleasant and less recognizable, Roxana’s desires—for companionship, touch, and adulthood—threaten to consume them both. As Søren pulls away, Roxana is drawn to a Bosnian refugee named Zlatan, whom locals call Geden, meaning “the Goat.” From their politics to their treatment of Roxana, the two men could not be more different. As she’s pushed to the shadowy periphery of Søren’s life, the novel—like Roxana—begins to turn inward. There are fewer flashbacks and longer, claustrophobic stretches detailing Roxana’s body, her longings, and the space she inhabits. The novel’s sometimes-deliberate sparseness gives way to sensual and frank descriptions of genitalia, bodily functions, and domesticity: “The way formless hours could fall wide as splayed knees” and “the space between my legs became the center of everything, opened like a peeled grapefruit.” Above all else, Locascio centers the female body exquisitely.
A debut exploring how we open up to others—and, more importantly, ourselves.