Jessi Jezewska Stevens

The Visitors (paperback edition)

On the eve of the Occupy Wall Street protests, C is flat broke. Once a renowned textile artist, she’s now the sole proprietor of an arts supply store in Lower Manhattan. Divorced, alone, at loose ends, C is stuck with a struggling business, a stack of bills, a new erotic interest in her oldest girlfriend, and a persistent hallucination in the form of a rogue garden gnome with a pointed interest in systems collapse . . . C needs to put her medical debt and her sex life in order, but how to make concrete plans with this little visitor haunting her apartment, sporting a three-piece suit and delivering impromptu lectures on the vulnerability of the national grid? Moreover, what’s all this computer code doing in the story of her life? And do the answers to all of C’s questions lie with an eco-hacktivist cabal threatening to end modern life as we know it?

The Visitors is mordantly funny as it follows a woman dealing with debt, lust and an unwelcome visitor in the last days of a broken status quo. It peers into How We Got Here and asks What We Do Next, whatever our personal hallucinations may be.

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More Info

  • Jessi Jezewska Stevens spoke to The Creative Independent about her writing – you can read the interview here.
  • You can read Jessi Jezewska Stevens’ short story ‘Rumpel’ in The Baffler.
  • A discussion between Jessi Jezewska Stevens and Joshua Cohen about The Visitors is available to watch on Third Place Books’ YouTube channel, here.
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 6 February 2024
ISBN: 9781913505707

Reviews


Kirkus Review, starred review

‘Elements of the novel (particularly its exploration of cybernetics as a ubiquitous controller of domestic life) recall the work of such 20th-century greats as DeLillo, but Stevens’ voice – which is meticulous, wide ranging, and moored in a different perspective from the 20th century’s predominantly white male hegemonies – makes her work particularly suited for the current century’s artistic needs. Ambitious and powerful – a remarkable novel.’

Tobias Carroll
Tor.com

‘You might not think Occupy Wall Street and prophetic garden gnomes would fit together within the confines of the same narrative. Now, here’s Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s new novel The Visitors to make the case that, yes, the two can mesh together seamlessly. It’s the kind of ambitious, madcap narrative combination that’s all too rare nowadays.’


Publishers Weekly

‘[A] mordantly funny requiem for the early 21st century . . . The odd touch of magic does nothing to diminish the story’s uneasy relevance to the contemporary state of affairs. Fans of such paranoia masters as DeLillo and Pynchon should give this a look.’

Daisy Hildyard
The Guardian

‘The Visitors is a slim book with a lot going on. . . The book accepts, and even delights in, the strenuous absurdity of its characters’ efforts to index the relationship between the virtual and the material, or to locate the source of reality in imagination.’

Anna Cafolla
The Face Summer Reads 2022

‘It’s both a bold, imaginative play on very recent history and a trenchant prophecy of the terrifying times we’re collectively staring down the barrel of.’


Lithub, included in ‘35 Novels You Need to Read This Summer’

‘[A]s its semi-fictional world frays at every edge, we stay close with C., a deeply written character who could be any of us: beset by the stresses of debt, anxious about decisions made and decisions to come, yet filled with all the rich longing, desire, and tenderness that renews our humanity, even at the worst of times.’


Necessary Fiction

‘Here is a refreshing novel by an author willing to take chances...The Visitors stands as a pensive and important work...rare and exciting company.’


Star Tribune

‘“Is it possible to imagine something so fully that it takes on a life of its own? So many systems run only on belief.” It's possible that a novel, like this one, does, too.’


Authors love The Visitors

‘Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s frighteningly brilliant new novel The Visitors is both a bold reimagining of the recent past and an all-too-likely prophecy of what's to come. Caustic, intimate, and consistently surprising, this novel cements Stevens’s place as one of the great chroniclers of our cruel and terrifying times.’ Andrew Martin

‘In Jessi Jezewska Stevens’ timeless novel, The Visitors, nothing is as it seems, everything is in motion, and progress and decay are simultaneous. Amidst credit scores and talking spectres, revolutionary impulses and the indissoluble truths found in a lifelong friendship, Stevens paints a brilliant and richly captivating portrait of an artist teetering between her own past and an American collapse happening in real time. Stevens’ intimacy with history borders on the telepathic. The Visitors is transcendent and astounding in every way.’ Michael Zapata

‘Jessi Jezewksa Stevens' scalpel-fine prose – slicing with wit and pathos – belies the bewildering scope of The Visitors, which lays bare everything from the audacity of modern finance to the visceral costs of debt, love, and success. Yet while collapse looms nigh, every page beams with defiant jubilance and gut-punch insights. Equal parts revelatory and moving, The Visitors cuts to the core of the delusion and disillusionment of our era.’ Jakob Guanzon

‘The Visitors is such a unique gem of a novel—an intimate and affecting character study that is somehow also a DeLillo-esque container for diamond-sharp insights into big data, eco-terrorism, and the subprime mortgage crisis – that, like the garden gnome who haunts its protagonist, I’m half-convinced it couldn’t possibly exist. But it does, and it is dazzling, and Stevens' readers are incredibly lucky to have it.’ Adam Wilson

‘This book is a speedball, with lines as beautifully sad and weary as John Berryman's lines, and a premise as wild and lit as one of Philip K. Dick's premises. Stevens is a writer who makes you want to slow down and read each sentence carefully, even as you want to race forward and see what happens.’ Benjamin Nugent

‘One of my favorite writers has written another imaginative and attentive marvel. The Visitors is about business: the business of staying alive, the business of being with others, the business of staying sane, and the business of business.’ Rivka Galchen

‘An orgy of synaptic firing and flourish, The Visitors is a novel of longing, lostness, and late capitalism told with roving imagination and warmth.’ Tracy O’Neill


Booksellers love The Visitors

‘Jessi Jezewska Stevens has created a parallel timeline as tumultuous and dread-inducing as our own, yet somehow this distorted reality reveals more about the preoccupations of existing than it's lived counterpart ever could. Part time capsule, part user manual, and part hallucinatory malware, The Visitors will still be with you long after the lights have gone out.’ Josie Smith, Greenlight Bookstore

‘What would you do if an interrogating gnome appeared in your apartment one morning and never left? If you are C, the artist-protagonist of Jessi Jezewska Stevens’ enthralling novel, The Visitors, you constantly question whether your gnome is real or imagined, all while operating a NYC art supply store, mourning the end of your marriage and your fertility, hiding from personal bankruptcy, and longing for a romantic relationship with your oldest friend, Zo. Apart from C’s personal troubles, a terrorist group called GoodNite is destroying city power grids and staging protests around the world. Stevens fully immerses readers into C’s world, exploring the artist’s relationship to her craft, how loneliness exploits our deepest fears and vulnerabilities, the affection and jealousy between childhood girlfriends, and the permanent scar of immigrant trauma. A clever, thought-provoking novel that is as surprising as it is satisfying.’ Lori Feathers, Interabang Books

‘Stevens' writing is vicious and cerebral, an enthralling combination. she has a lovely knack of hinting and alluding to goings-on elsewhere (the best kind of narration, imho). A cynical sophomore novel that deserves all the praise it will no doubt receive.’ Doug Riggs, Bank Square Books