Self-Portrait with Nothing

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Tor Publishing Group, Oct 18, 2022 - Fiction - 320 pages
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Orphan Black meets Fringe in a story that reminds us that living our best life sometimes means embracing the imperfect one we already have.

"Fraught and deeply moving...the work of a genuinely exciting new talent." —Booker Prize winner, George Saunders.


If a picture paints a thousand worlds . . .

Abandoned as an infant on the local veterinarian’s front porch, Pepper Rafferty was raised by two loving mothers, and now, at thirty-six is married to the stable, supportive Ike. She’s never told anyone that at fifteen she discovered the identity of her biological mother.

That’s because her birth mother is Ula Frost, a reclusive painter famous for the outrageous claims that her portraits summon their subjects’ doppelgängers from parallel universes.

Researching the rumors, Pepper couldn’t help but wonder: Is there a parallel universe in which she is more confident, more accomplished, better able to accept love?

A universe in which Ula decided she was worth keeping?

A universe in which Ula’s rejection didn’t still hurt too much to share?

Combining a thrilling pan-continental race against time with an authentic and touching personal drama, Self-Portrait with Nothing is an unforgettable debut that explores what it means to be part of a family.

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Self-Portrait with Nothing

User Review  - Book Verdict

DEBUT A baby is abandoned in a dog bed on the front porch at the home of two female veterinarians, who quickly decide to keep the baby and name her Pepper. Pepper grows up at the veterinary clinic ... Read full review

Self-Portrait with Nothing

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Pokwatka’s speculative debut straddles the line between sci-fi thriller and literary fiction. Enigmatic painter Ula Frost is missing and the only clues to her disappearance are the portraits she left ... Read full review

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About the author (2022)

Aimee Pokwatka grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia. She studied anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and received her MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University. Her work has been published in Fairy Tale Review, Outlook Springs, Hunger Mountain, and elsewhere. She lives in New York with her family. SELF-PORTRAIT WITH NOTHING is her debut novel.

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