About the Book
“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 town in the north of Denmark for the rest of the summer, she doesn’t hesitate to accept. There, Roxana’s world narrows and opens as she experiences fantasy, ritual, and the pleasures of her body, a thrilling realm of erotic and domestic bliss. But as their relationship deepens, Søren’s temperament darkens, and Roxana finds herself increasingly drawn to a mysterious local outsider whom she learns is a refugee from the Balkan War.
An erotic 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 an incisive examination of xenophobia, migration, and what it means to belong.
Praise for Open Me
“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
“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
“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.”—Estelle Tang, Elle.com, “The 30 Best Books to Read This Summer”
“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, Locascio’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
“This book is all of the best things. A little dark, a lot sexy, and very very smart, Open Me is contagious in its yearning. In Locascio’s clever and captivating prose, we follow eighteen-year-old Roxana (naïve, inexperienced, unyieldingly curious) as she derails her summer study abroad program for a man she’s just met. What seems at first a tale of a trivial, impulsive decision becomes instead a psychological and political investigation into Roxana’s newfound desire, isolation, pleasure, and madness. I read this book in three breathless gulps and when I finally came up for air, I just wanted more.” —Claire Tobin, Literati Bookstore
“This book is sexy as helllllll. Due to a scheduling error, Roxana, a blissfully normal American girl, heads off to Denmark rather than Paris with her best friend for a summer abroad program before beginning college. Upon arrival she meets Soren, a 30-year-old graduate student with all the sullenness of a genius on the edge of a breakthrough (or a lonely man on the edge of a breakdown). Either way, Roxana is hooked and off they go, forgoing the summer program for his uncle’s flat in a small Denmark town. Parts of the book read like a horror story with me screaming at Roxana, girl what are you thinking don’t go with him this is an average, borderline psychotic man, go back to your program!!! But thankfully she trudges on into a foreign land with a foreign man where she fearlessly discovers, feeds, grows her own expanding desire to, ahem, earthshaking new heights. A marvel.”–Molly Moore, Bookpeople
“A plunge into the murky, unexplored depths of sexuality and xenophobia, Open Me is the most beautifully written new novel I’ve read in years. Gripped from the start by its spare, rich, exacting prose, I was pulled through the pages in the thrall of eighteen year old Roxana’s discovery of her own body, its burning, complex urges, its capacity for ecstasy and erasure, for knowledge and dream. Locascio’s unflinching frankness about female desire is not just refreshing, it is vital for our time.”—Michaela Carter, Peregrine Book Company
“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
“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