Endpapers (Hardcover)

Endpapers By Jennifer Savran Kelly Cover Image
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Description


An accessible, character-driven story set in 2003 New York City about a genderqueer book conservator who feels trapped by her gender presentation, her ill-fitting relationship, and her artistic block, as she discovers a decades-old hidden queer love letter and becomes obsessed with tracking down its author.

It’s 2003, and artist Dawn Levit is stuck. A bookbinder who works in conservation at the Met, she spends her free time scouting the city’s street art, hoping something might spark inspiration. Instead, everything looks like a dead end. And art isn’t the only thing that feels wrong: wherever she turns, her gender identity clashes with the rest of her life. Her relationship, once anchored by shared queerness, is falling apart as her boyfriend Lukas increasingly seems to be attracted to Dawn only when she’s at her most masculine. Meanwhile at work, Dawn has to present as female, even on the days when that isn’t true. Either way, her difference feels like a liability.  

Then, one day at work, Dawn finds something hidden behind the endpaper of an old book: the torn-off cover of a ‘50s lesbian pulp novel, Turn Her About. On the front is a campy illustration of a woman looking into a handheld mirror and seeing a man’s face. And on the back is a love letter.  

Dawn latches onto the coincidence, becoming obsessed with tracking down the note’s author. Her fixation only increases when her best friend Jae is injured in a hate crime, for which Dawn feels responsible. As Dawn searches for the letter’s author, she is also looking for herself. She tries to understand how to live in a world that doesn’t see her as she truly is, how to get unstuck in her gender, and how to rediscover her art, and she can’t shake the feeling that the note’s author might be able to help guide her to the answers. 

A sharply written, deeply evocative story about what it means to live authentically—even within an identity whose parameters have not yet been defined—Endpapers will appeal to readers of queer, nonbinary, or trans fiction like Torrey Peters’ Detransition, Baby as well as anyone who loves character-driven, setting-rich stories like Tell the Wolves I’m Home or The Immortalists
 

About the Author


Jennifer Savran Kelly (she/her/they/them) lives in Ithaca, New York, where she writes, binds books, and works as a production editor at Cornell University Press. Endpapers is her debut novel. In 2018 it won a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. In 2019 it was selected as a finalist for the SFWP Literary Awards program and for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Her short fiction has appeared in Hobart, Black Warrior Review, Green Mountains Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts (Online Companion), and elsewhere. In 2014, she was selected to study in the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

Praise For…


“Sometimes the hardest thing to be is our authentic selves. How do we do that when society has hidden and erased any path that could show us the way? Dawn Levit finds that heroic path by believing in hunches and looking for clues. Not quite a mystery novel, this is a story of following one’s own inner desire for belonging through art and surprising friendships. Savran Kelly creates a story full of humans who we long to be friends with after the last page is read. Love is acceptance, and this book is that and more.”
Amy Wallen, author of When We Were Ghouls

"Part portrait of the artist, part queer coming-of-age, and part investigative puzzle, this intimate, emotional novel parlays romance, passion, politics, and history into a compelling tale, beautifully and insightfully told. Jennifer Savran Kelly is an exciting, empathetic new voice.”
J. Robert Lennon, author of Subdivision and Let Me Think
 
Endpapers is a richly imagined and moving novel about identity, desire, and art. Its characters are believable and engaging, its plot intriguing, but just as important is its urgent subtext, a plea for humans to break free from constricting labels and instead behold each other in all their thorny, unpredictable individuality; to love complexity and uncertainty, rather than ideology and order. This just might be the most urgent issue of our time, and Endpapers tackles it with energy and—that most apropos weapon—subtlety.”
Brian Hall, author of The Stone Loves the World
 
“Jennifer Savran Kelly’s Endpapers immerses us in the world and mind of her engaging but struggling narrator Dawn—genderqueer, Jewish, a book conservator on a desperate search for queer role models and an artistic community. Endpapers is about the need to be fully seen—to locate oneself in the past in order to feel visible in the present. Savran Kelly is a masterful and compassionate storyteller, one who finds hope in the antidotes to hate and violence: community, art, authentic self. This is a book for all of us!”
Lori Ostlund, author of After the Parade
 
"A mystery wrapped in a love story wrapped in an artist’s coming of age, Endpapers is an ode to queer joy and the messiness of selfhood. With tenderness and insight, Jennifer Savran Kelly explores what we lose when we keep our innermost selves hidden—and what it means to forge an authentic life through art."
Antonia Angress, author of Sirens Muses
 
“Jennifer Savran Kelly’s Endpapers is the most personal novel about life as a gender-nonconforming person that I’ve ever read. It opens a window into what it’s like to live in a world where you need to disguise who you are just to get along, and yet, at its heart, it remains an abundantly hopeful story. It's a story full of messy, true life. I’m so glad I read it.”
Claire Oshetsky, author of Chouette
 
“Achingly evocative and thoroughly satisfying, Jennifer Savran Kelly’s Endpapers follows a genderqueer bookbinder through post-9/11 New York as she searches the city for answers about a long-hidden love letter and the outlines of her own identity. Part historical mystery, part meditation on the shifting nature of creativity and self, Endpapers is a story that bursts with warmth, community, and the sometimes-heartbreaking decisions we make when we begin to stitch together the spine of our lives."   
Katy Hays, author of The Cloisters
 
“Jennifer Savran Kelly’s Endpapers is an accomplished, moving novel where the search for answers to a literary mystery doubles as the search for queer authenticity in a world of bindings: book bindings, artistic bindings, social bindings. With humor, tenderness, and honesty, Savran Kelly lays bare the struggle to find our brilliant, beautiful selves—and the courage to go forth boldly with them.”
Zak Salih, author of Let’s Get Back to the Party
 


Product Details
ISBN: 9781643751849
ISBN-10: 1643751840
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: February 7th, 2023
Pages: 336
Language: English