Our wonderful friend, and one of our favorite people, Katy Simpson Smith, will join us on Thursday, April 27th at 6:00 PM in the Community Room of the Pass Christian Library to discuss and sign her new novel, The Weeds. Making the evening more special, Katy' great friend, and fellow author, Margaret McMullan will join Katy in conversation about The Weeds.
Two women, connected across time, edge toward transgression in pursuit of their desires.
A Mississippi woman pushes through the ruin of the Roman Colosseum, searching for plants. She has escaped her life, apprenticed herself to catalog all the species growing in this place. Crawling along the stones, she wonders how she has landed here, a reluctant botanist amid a snarl of tourists in comfortable sandals. She hunts for a scientific agenda and a direction of her own.
In 1854, a woman pushes through the jungle of the Roman Colosseum, searching for plants. As punishment for her misbehavior, she has been indentured to the English botanist Richard Deakin, for whom she will compile a flora. She is a thief, and she must find new ways to use her hands. If only the woman she loves weren't on a boat, with a husband. But love isn't always possible. She logs 420 species.
Through a list of seemingly minor plants and their uses--medical, agricultural, culinary--these women calculate intangible threats: a changing climate, the cost of knowledge, and the ways repeated violence can upend women's lives. They must forge their own small acts of defiance and slip through whatever cracks they find. How can anyone survive?
Lush, intoxicating, and teeming with mischief, Katy Simpson Smith's The Weeds is a tense, mesmerizing page-turner about science and survival, the roles women are given and have taken from them, and the lives they make for themselves.
Intricately written, combining lush prose, deep insights, and a wicked sense of humor, The Weeds is an irresistible reading experience. Katy Simpson Smith is a wholly original voice with talent to spare.”
—Jami Attenberg, author of I Came All This Way to Meet You
“Brilliant, poetic, unnerving, wholly original. What else would you expect from Katy Simpson Smith? With The Weeds, she has written another masterpiece.”
—Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth
“The Weeds is a beautiful, strange and compelling novel. I liked it for its playfulness about history, for its embrace of bodies in place, for its sense of doom and weirdness at loose in the world, as well as its presentation of men’s power (and what they miss because of it). I kept wanting my friends to read it so we could talk about it.”
—Sarah Moss, author of The Fell
“What a terrific novel! Strange, moving and marvelously alive, The Weeds works—like the eponymous flora that fills its pages—with subtle insistence and exuberant power to unfurl its ingeniously twinned stories of injustice, heartbreak, desire, and hope. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Laird Hunt, author of Zorrie
“The Weeds is the story of secrets in plain sight—plants in the cracks of a monument, women’s lives rooted in spaces that provide them no sunlight or water—but this novel is anything but quiet or secretive. It is explosive and prismatic. Katy Simpson Smith writes everything from the microscopic to the vast, and in her hands the world is mean and darkly funny and outlandishly gorgeous. I will be recommending this novel to everyone forever.”
—Ramona Ausubel, author of The Last Animal and Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plen
Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She is the author of the novels The Story of Land and Sea, a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and one of Vogue's Best Books of 2014; Free Men; and The Everlasting, a New York Times Best Historical Fiction Book of 2020. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Oxford American, Granta, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. She received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is also the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835. She lives in New Orleans.
Margaret McMullan is the recipient of a National Endowment of Arts Fellowship in literature and a Fulbright to teach and research in Hungary, Margaret McMullan is the author of nine award-winning books. Margaret is a resident of Pass Christian.