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Catherine Lacey in conversation with Marie-Anne McQuay

Catherine Lacey in conversation with Marie-Anne McQuay

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Join us at the bookshop on August 20th for a conversation between the fantastic Catherine Lacey (author of Pew & The Answers) and curator Marie-Anne McQuay, to celebrate the paperback release of Catherine's latest novel Biography of X.

When X – an iconoclastic artist, writer and polarizing shape-shifter – dies suddenly, her widow, wild with grief, hurls herself into writing a biography of the woman she deified. Though X was recognised as a crucial creative force of her era, she kept a tight grip on her life story. Not even CM, her wife, knew where X had been born, and in her quest to find out, she opens a Pandora’s box of secrets, betrayals and destruction. All the while she immerses herself in the history of the Southern Territory, a fascist theocracy that split from the rest of the country after World War II, as it is finally, in the present day, forced into an uneasy reunification.

A masterfully constructed, counter-factual literary adventure, complete with original images assembled by X’s widow, Biography of X follows a grieving wife seeking to understand the woman who enthralled her. CM traces X’s peripatetic trajectory over decades, from Europe to the ruins of America’s divided territories, and through her collaborations and feuds with everyone from David Bowie and Tom Waits to Susan Sontag and Kathy Acker. And when she finally understands the scope of X’s defining artistic project, CM realises her wife’s deceptions were far crueller than she imagined.

Pulsing with suspense and intellect, Biography of X is a roaring epic that plumbs the depths of grief, art and love, and that introduces an unforgettable character who shows us the fallibility of the stories we craft for ourselves.

Catherine Lacey is the author of four books: Nobody Is Ever Missing, The Answers, Certain American States, Pew, and Biography of X. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, Vogue, the New York Times and elsewhere. She is a Granta Best of Young American Novelist, a Guggenheim Fellow and the winner of the 2021 New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award.

Marie-Anne McQuay is an arts curator of international standing, recently announced as the curator for the Liverpool Biennial in 2025. In 2019 she was the exhibition director for Sean Edwards’ Undo Things Done, the Welsh entry at the Venice Biennale. Since 2014 she has been resident in Liverpool, as Director of Projects at Arts & Heritage and prior to that as Head of Programme at Bluecoat from 2014-2022, where her literary interests were frequently represented by reading rooms in the gallery and events with authors such as Percival Everett and Owen Hatherley.

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