Four artists are drawn into a web of rivalry and desire at an elite art school and on the streets of New York in this “gripping, provocative, and supremely entertaining” (BuzzFeed) debut
“Captures the ache-inducing quality of art and desire . . . a deeply relatable and profoundly enjoyable read, one drenched in prismatic color and light.”—Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of With Teeth
FINALIST FOR THE MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Glamour, PopSugar, Debutiful
It’s 2011: America is in a deep recession and Occupy Wall Street is escalating. But at the elite Wrynn College of Art, students paint and sculpt in a rarefied bubble. Louisa Arceneaux is a thoughtful, observant nineteen-year-old when she transfers to Wrynn as a scholarship student, but she soon finds herself adrift in an environment that prizes novelty over beauty. Complicating matters is Louisa’s unexpected attraction to her charismatic roommate, Karina Piontek, the preternaturally gifted but mercurial daughter of wealthy art collectors. Gradually, Louisa and Karina are drawn into an intense sensual and artistic relationship, one that forces them to confront their deepest desires and fears. But Karina also can’t shake her fascination with Preston Utley, a senior and anti-capitalist Internet provocateur, who is publicly feuding with visiting professor and political painter Robert Berger—a once-controversial figurehead seeking to regain relevance.
When Preston concocts an explosive hoax, the fates of all four artists are upended as each is unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat New York art world. Now all must struggle to find new identities in art, in society, and among each other. In the process, they must find either their most authentic terms of life—of success, failure, and joy—or risk losing themselves altogether.
With a canny, critical eye, Sirens & Muses overturns notions of class, money, art, youth, and a generation’s fight to own their future.
About the Author
Antonia Angress was born in Los Angeles and raised in San José, Costa Rica. She is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Minnesota MFA program, where she was a Winifred Fiction Fellow and a College of Liberal Arts Fellow. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, the artist Connor McManus. Sirens & Muses is her first novel.
“The characters in Sirens & Muses wake up each day and choose chaos. . . . Angress’s strength is her ability to create an engrossing plot, allowing readers to watch as her messy characters navigate their way to the finish line.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[H]olds the reader’s attention like a gallery so compelling that a visitor is torn between staring at one work and rushing on to the next room.”—Glamour
“Convincing and moving . . . Angress’ portrayal of the intersection—or disconnect—of art, politics, idealism, and practicality within the web of familial, romantic, and professional relationships is painterly, in the best sense of the word.”—Minneapolis StarTribune
“Angress so deftly portrays the splendor and squalor of trying to create something great in the face of rampant capitalism, of love and lust in the face of tooth-and-claw competition.”—Electric Lit
“Sexy and smart . . . confident and captivating . . . propulsive and immersive . . . structurally ambitious and wonderfully crafted.”—Autostraddle
“Antonia Angress is so talented, and her depiction of young artists—with their egos and inspirations and ambitions—is unforgettably impressive. Read. This. Book.”—Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement
“Brilliant . . . This narrative is intricate, moving, and often funny, and its scenes are beautifully crafted. . . . A wonderful book.”—Charles Baxter, author of The Sun Collective
“Sirens & Muses features characters as flawed as they are talented—full of desire, ambition, and aching regret. Their journeys engrossed me till the very last page.”—Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
“Powerful, elegant, and mesmerizing . . . a writer to watch.”—Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of The Revisioners
“Sirens & Muses captivated me with its well-drawn, complex characters and vivid descriptions and settings . . . a gorgeously rich and thoughtful novel.”—Annie Hartnett, author of Rabbit Cake and Unlikely Animals
“With wit, tenderness, and insight, Sirens & Muses explores why art matters, who gets to make it, and what it’s worth . . . is stunning in its detail and inventiveness.”—V. V. Ganeshananthan, author of Love Marriage
“A page-turning, sexy, witty dive into making art and the art world and just how great the chasm is that lies in-between.”—Joanna Hershon, author of St. Ivo
“A brilliant study of art, politics, male dominance, female passion, and the commercialized art world in the early 2010s . . . A highly recommended novel of art and heart.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“[A] winning debut . . . Angress nimbly embodies each of her characters, allowing her exceptional storytelling abilities to shine. . . . [Sirens & Muses] is a standout.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)