by Anna Metcalfe
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Pub Date 5 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 16 May 2023
An unnerving, compelling and utterly contemporary debut novel about one woman's metamorphosis into an online phenomenon, from a Sunday Times Short Story Award-shortlisted writer.
She is watched by Elliot as he trains in the gym. He notices her dedication to building her body and taking up space, and he is drawn to her strength. She is observed by her mother, as she grows from a taciturn, tremulous child into a determined and distant woman, who severs all familial ties. She is observed by her former colleague Susie, who offers her sanctuary and support as she leaves her partner and her job and rebuilds her life, transforms her body, and reinvents herself online. Each of these three witnesses to the woman desires closeness. Each is left with only the husk of who she was before she became someone else: a woman on a singular and solitary path with the power to inspire and to influence her followers, for good and ill.
An oblique, intimate novel told in lucid, beguiling prose, Chrysalis is a story about solitude and selfhood, and about the blurred line between self-care and narcissism. It is about controlling the body and the mind, about the place of the individual within society and what is means when someone choses to leave society behind. It is strikingly contemporary story about the search for answers and those we trust to give them to us.
‘WOW. I just devoured this. What a wonderful, painful, funny novel… It’s so beautiful and cruel, and summed up just perfectly by the ending – a flawless final sentence, one of the best I’ve ever read, it absolutely gave me chills’ Avni Doshi
‘Unputdownable, ice-cool and wittily contemporary, Chrysalis announces Anna Metcalfe as a distinctive and daring fresh literary voice. Utterly original and with shades of Ottessa Moshfegh, Patricia Lockwood, Yoko Ogawa and Alexandra Kleeman, this brilliant portrayal of desire and transcendence had me totally entranced’ Sharlene Teo
‘I can’t stop thinking about this incredibly smart and totally unique novel. Ranging from online obsession, to mothers and daughters, to the very nature of selfhood, the whole thing is strange and warm and, crucially, very funny. With shades of Han Kang, Catherine Lacey and Gwendoline Riley, Metcalfe’s writing is both dissecting and effortless; I savoured every last brilliant sentence’ Ruth Gilligan
‘A beautifully conceived triptych, shining and modern’ Lillian Fishman
‘A masterclass in character, Chrysalis is an unsettling and brilliant portrait – not just of a woman in transformation or of those who fall into her orbit, but also of a world defined simultaneously by our isolation and by our longing to connect. This is a sharply-wrought, surprisingly tender book about how our internal changes create external change… often in ways we didn't intend’ Jen Silverman