About the book: When fifteen-year-old Xie moves from California to a rural Southern town to live with his father he makes just two friends, Jo and Leni, both budding environmental and animal activists. One night, the three friends decide to free captive mink from a local farm. But when Xie is the only one caught his small world gets smaller: Kicked out of high school, he becomes increasingly connected with nature, spending his time in the birch woods behind his house, attending extremist activist meetings, and serving as a custodian for what others ignore, abuse, and discard. Exploring the woods alone one night, Xie discovers the relic of a Catholic saint—the martyred Pancratius—in a nearby church. Regal and dressed in ornate armor, the skeleton captivates him. After weeks of visits, Xie steals the skeleton, hides it in his attic bedroom, and develops a complex and passionate relationship with the bones and spirit of the saint, whom he calls P. As Xie’s relationship deepens with P., so too does his relationship with the woods—private property that will soon be overrun with loggers. As Xie enacts a plan to save his beloved woods, he must also find a way to balance his conflicting—and increasingly extreme—ideals of purity, sacrifice, and responsibility in order to live in this world. Maryse Meijer's The Seventh Mansion is a deeply moving and profoundly original debut novel—both an urgent literary call to arms and an unforgettable coming-of-age story about finding love and selfhood in the face of mass extinction and environmental destruction.
About the author: Maryse Meijer is the author of the story collections Heartbreaker, which was one of Electric Literature's 25 Best Short Story Collections of 2016, and Rag, which was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Pick and a finalist for the Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, as well as the novella Northwood.
About the interlocutor: Stephanie Soileau's collection of short stories LAST ONE OUT SHUT OFF THE LIGHTS is forthcoming from Little, Brown & Co. in Summer 2020. Her work has also appeared in Glimmer Train, Oxford American, Ecotone, Tin House, New Stories from the South, and other journals and anthologies, and has been supported by fellowships from the Wallace Stegner Fellowship Program at Stanford University, the Camargo Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She earned her BA in English at the University of Chicago and MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is currently at work on a novel about oil, land rights, and the disappearing Louisiana coast.