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The Amoral Artist

Rachel Lyon is at once a realist and a dreamer. The descriptions of 1990s Dumbo feel so tangible that you want to walk under the rain-slicked overpasses while listening to the Pixies’ Bossanova. But between Lyon’s brilliant flashes of realistic prose, snappy dialogue, and brisk plot, is the space of dreaming: Lu Rile’s (or is it Rachel Lyon’s?) philosophical fixations and the slight absurdism with which she sees her places, and others’ places, in the world.

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Rachel Lyon on art and ambition in her debut novel, 'Self-Portrait With Boy'

Self-Portrait With Boy" is a book about a woman faced with an impossible choice. The conflict is rich and thorny, raising questions about art and morality, love and betrayal, sacrifice and opportunism and the chance moments that can define a life. The novel wrestles with the nature of art but moves with the speed of a page-turner.

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ELECTRIC LITERATURE

How Does a Tragedy Become Art?

Capturing the most joyous, life-changing moments on camera is either a stroke of luck or the result of careful planning. The tragic instants that alter lives, however, are rarely images we want to frame; when they are caught on film, we’re left with certain questions: what to do with this tangible reminder of sadness? Who exactly owns the rights to this moment? The person, their family, the capturer?

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18 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: February 2018

This debut novel shows what decisions an artist has to make when someone else’s tragedy will be shown to the world.

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LIBRARY JOURNAL

STARRED REVIEW

Fabulously written, this spellbinding debut novel is a real page-turner. A powerful, brilliantly imagined story not easily forgotten; highly recommended.

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MUST-READ FEBRUARY NEW RELEASES

a searing novel about the fraught relationship between intimacy and ambition.

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CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS

THE MOST ANTICIPATED FICTION BOOKS OF 2018

A subtly elegiac yet fierce look at the blurred boundaries between life and art, loyalty and morality.

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A selection of first sentences from new books, Feb. 4

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Lyon’s candid, adroit debut follows a young artist’s disturbing journey to find an audience… written in raw, honest prose.

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Featured Authors

Set in ’90s in the early days of Brooklyn’s gentrification, Self-Portrait with Boy is a commentary about the emotional dues of success as well as an exploration of female friendship.

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As a reader, I was challenged by this brilliantly told story. It is haunting me still.

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I devoured this novel, it was ugly and beautiful, much like everything going on inside of Lu. It made me spitting mad at times too.

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'Self-Portrait With Boy' Explores The Narcissistic Ambition That Fuels Success

Lyon's striking debut novel is called Self-Portrait with Boy, and though it looks backward to the end of an era in New York, it's not at all nostalgic. Think the tough tone of something like Rachel Kushner's New York/Italian art and politics novel, The Flamethrowers, or Olivia Laing's atmospheric nonfiction book about New York, The Lonely City.

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Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today's leading writers. Rachel Lyon is this episode's guest. Her debut novel, Self-Portrait with Boy, is available now from Scribner.

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APARTMENT THERAPY

9 Buzzed-About Authors You'll Want to Know Before Your Friends Do

Lyon's first novel takes a deep look at the difficult choices artists make around their most powerful works, while also exploring the complexities of a female friendship founded on loss.

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In Self-Portrait With Boy, Rachel Lyon has written a powerful debut novel

Self-Portrait will get you thinking deeply about the challenges and complexities of creativity, morality, and making art as a woman.

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CRAFT LITERARY

New books: week of February 5!

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VOLUME 1 BROOKLYN

Vol.1 Brooklyn’s February 2018 Book Preview

There’s plenty to ponder in Rachel Lyon’s debut novel–from the way in which it evokes a particular neighborhood in a particular place in time to the way that it raises questions about art, tragedy, and exploitation. It’s a heady array of things to consider, deftly handled in fictional form.

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BUSTLE

WHAT DOES A BOOK DESIGNER DO? JAYA MICELLI TAKES YOU BEHIND THE SCENES

"On a recent project for Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon, I was emotionally compelled by the story of the female protagonist, an ambitious artist/photographer."

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23 FOR 2018: A LITERARY PREVIEW FOR THE YEAR TO COME

We’re always up for novels dealing with artists and the ethical quandaries in which they find themselves, and Rachel Lyon’s debut falls squarely into that category. Throw in a detailed portrait of 1990s New York, and you have our full attention.

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STARRED REVIEW

In her gripping first novel, Lyon sympathetically portrays [her protagonist's] struggle to make an impossible decision and to deal with its repercussions.

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Thick with the atmospheric grime of early 1990s New York… [SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BOY] is a book about time: Lyon captures the end of an era.

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New from Scribner: Self-Portrait with Boy: A Novel by Rachel Lyon.

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A powerful exploration of the complex terrain of female friendship, and a brilliant debut.

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MARJORIE'S WORLD OF BOOKS

5 OUT OF 5 STARS

This novel had everything I could ask for. I didn’t just read this book—I lived this book. I could hardly bear to read the last pages. I was so invested in the story that it felt personal.

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How Ruthless Must Artists Be to Succeed?

Self-Portrait with Boy is about making it as an artist, but it’s also about desire: the seesawing balance of companionship and compromise. The pursuit of artistic greatness can be a lonely endeavor. It can also be a transcendent experience, and one of the most compelling aspects of the novel is Lu’s relentless hunger to make her dreams a reality.

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SO MANY DAMN BOOKS

Episode Eighty-Four: Rachel Lyon

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LITHUB

5 WRITERS, 7 QUESTIONS, NO
WRONG ANSWERS

Welcome to the first edition of the Lit Hub Author Questionnaire, a monthly interview featuring seven questions for five authors with new books…

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Staff Picks: Rachel Lyon, Radiohead, and Richard Pryor

The story is told in crisp, clicking, photographic prose and has the narrative momentum of a thriller, though the question isn’t what tragedy will befall the main character but what that character will do with a tragedy once it’s happened—and, most interestingly, happened to someone else. 

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BOLDTV

BOLD LIFE BOOKSTR: RACHEL LYON ON HER DEBUT NOVEL SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BOY

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ARTSY

 

A NEW NOVEL ASKS, WHAT IF YOUR ARTWORK EXPLOITS SOMEONE ELSE'S PAIN?

The novel is a rarity—a fully believable, fictional treatment of the art world, ready to share shelf space with the likes of Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, Siri Husvedt’s The Blazing World, Tama Janowitz’s Slaves of New York, and a few select others.

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Rachel Lyon’s novel ‘Self-Portrait with Boy’ explores where art meets exploitation

“Self-Portrait with Boy” is a confident first novel with a lot going for it. The moral dilemma Lyon sets up is explored with intelligence and grace

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BOMB

You Have to Get Their Attention: An Interview with Rachel Lyon by Ryan Spencer

At its core, this novel dissects the risks and sacrifices involved in coming to terms with this notion.

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BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE

Rachel Lyon, host of reading series Ditmas Lit, to launch debut novel at Books Are Magic

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“I Feel a Lot of Tenderness For Her”: Rachel Lyon on Writing “Self-Portrait with Boy”

Rachel Lyon’s debut novel Self-Portrait with Boy is a gorgeously written story about ambition and responsibility, set in the New York City art scene of the early 1990s. In advance of the book’s launch at Books Are Magic on February 5, I sat down with Lyon at Pel’s Pie in Brooklyn to discuss her novel, teaching and writing prompts.

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You Oughta Read: 3 Debut Authors with Books out This January

I am always on the prowl for a great new book to read, and so it’s always a delight to find a book by first-timers—these little discoveries have been the silver lining of hope in my tunneled life.