“Playing is an audacious erotic debut novel that chills, thrills, shocks and enthralls. Through the story of a young American woman's love for a dark, handsome, older stranger, Melanie Abrams evokes the radiantly dark world of dangerous desires.” Bharati Mukherjee, author of Jasmine and Desirable Daughters
978-0-8021-7047-7 • $13.00 • Paperback • Apr. 2008
Melanie Abrams’s debut novel is a bold and provocative tale about love, betrayal, and how one young woman’s unconventional sexual reawakening uncovers the most guarded and shocking parts of her past.
When Josie, an anthropology grad student, is unexpectedly offered a job as the nanny for Tyler, a six-year-old with a penchant for trivia and an obsession with counting, she innocently accepts. Though Josie doesn’t necessarily need the job, there’s something about Tyler’s single mom, Maryher beauty, her confidence, her resemblance to Josie’s motherthat draws her in. While Josie’s quick intimacy with Mary soothes her estrangement from her own parents, it also breeds betrayal when Josie falls for Mary’s crush, Devesh. An Indian surgeon ten years Josie’s senior, Devesh is a strong and enigmatic man who pulls Josie into a dizzying world of sexual domination and submission that speaks to her deeply hidden desires. It is a world of games that fast becomes serious, forcing Josie to confront the darkest moments of her past as she desperately struggles with her family history, her own violent impulses, and her love for Devesh.
Rapturous, illuminating, and emotionally charged, Playing is an unflinching look at the irrevocable consequences of giving in to our most secret passions, and the freedom and imprisonment that comes with true self-knowledge.
“From its roots as a story of sexual obsession, this book grows into a deeply unsettling exploration of the human relationship to pain, both physical and psychological. It is a gripping and at times chilling story, but Melanie Abrams’s vision is unflinching: even in this terrifying landscape of memory and self-destruction, she is able to find a vision of hope.” Daniel Mason, author of The Piano Tuner and A Far Country
“Playing is a smart [and] erotic debut. Melanie Abrams’s prose is as sharp as the tangled desires she portrays in this compelling exploration of the connections between sex, death, pain, and atonement.” Mark Lindquist, author of The King of Methlehem