THE GOLD PERSIMMON
Clytemnestra is a check-in girl at The Gold Persimmon, a temple-like New York City hotel with gilded furnishings and carefully guarded secrets. Cloistered in her own reality, Cly lives by a strict set of rules until a connection with a troubled hotel guest threatens the world she’s so carefully constructed.
In a parallel reality, an inexplicable fog envelops the city, trapping a young, nonbinary writer named Jaime in a sex hotel with six other people. As the survivors begin to turn on one another, Jaime must navigate a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Haunted by specters of grief and familial shame, Jaime and Cly find themselves trapped in dual narratives in this gripping experimental novel that explores sexuality, surveillance, and the very nature of storytelling.
PRAISE for THE GOLD PERSIMMON
“The Gold Persimmon is a place where grief, sex, and mystery mingle. Merbaum fills her two hotels with haunting characters, propulsive storytelling, and a dreamy, Lynchian atmosphere. Once you check into The Gold Persimmon, I guarantee you'll want to stay till the end. Part suspenseful romp, part meditation on human connection, The Gold Persimmon is a riveting debut. In twin hotels—one for people seeking escape from grief, one for people seeking escape in sex—Lindsay Merbaum’s captivating characters confront profound questions about identity, loss, fear, and desire.” — Helen Phillips, National Book Award longlisted author of The Need
“I loved the keen erotics of terror at play in Lindsay Merbaum's twinned hotels, all the strange ways in which the supposed anonymity of such shared spaces become mirrors by which we might be exposed, tested, and transformed. If you've ever lain awake in a rented room, desperately wondering who you really are, The Gold Persimmon will haunt you: when you wake up from its dream, who's to say you'll still be who you were when it began?” — Matt Bell, author of Appleseed
“The Gold Persimmon is a place where grief, sex, and mystery mingle. Merbaum fills her two hotels with haunting characters, propulsive storytelling, and a dreamy, Lynchian atmosphere. Once you check into The Gold Persimmon, I guarantee you'll want to stay till the end.” — Lincoln Michel, author of The Body Scout
"Lindsay Merbaum's debut novel is a stunning and vital entry into the genre of queer horror. Her exquisite prose envelops readers in the worlds of two dream-like hotels and two vividly drawn queer protagonists haunted by their mother's voices and their past lives. Inside deliciously strange fairy tale rooms and cramped New York City apartments, we witness Cly and Jamie inhabiting their desires, facing their grief, and struggling to exist within America's violent systems of social control. Yet, as much as this is a story about pain, about ghosts, it is also a story about pleasure and futurity. Through the clarity and power of Merbaum's voice, the richness of her vision, we are invited to imagine the new rooms and notebooks and selves that await us, the keys already tucked in our pockets." — Meagan Cass, author of ActivAmerica and winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize
"In Merbaum’s ferociously inventive full-length debut, Cly is a check-in girl at the Gold Persimmon, a hotel whose soundproofed rooms provide space for guests to indulge their grief in privacy. The job’s strict adherence to hotel procedure and rules provides the bland regularity Cly requires. In a separate reality, Jaime, a nonbinary writer, has arrived at a sex hotel called the Red Orchid to interview for a job. IReaders first follow Cly as her routine is disrupted by a mysterious guest, then experience Jaime’s terror as the Red Orchid is enveloped in an inexplicable fog that leaves them and a handful of hotel guests and employees fighting to survive both their improbable circumstance and each other. Uniting these storylines is a keen examination of human connection, fragility, and survival, both physical and psychological, told in elegant and heartbreaking prose." — Emily Vinci, Library Journal
"The Gold Persimmon places readers in the halls of two luxurious, discreet boutique hotels, one catering to needs of sexual desire, the other to grief. As the hotels become repositories for the consequences of disruptive encounters and apocalyptic, incomprehensible crises, the many characters readers follow must recreate themselves—or lose themselves. Lost and fragile hotel greeter Clytemnestra’s delicately ordered life is disrupted by hotel guests who don’t follow rules. The observant, nonbinary writer Jaime; frightened and abusive Jason; Callie, a picture-perfect wife-and-mother metamorphosing into an object of fear and pity; and others secrete themselves in one of the hotels to avoid a potentially lethal force outside, not realizing that they themselves may be more dangerous. Feminist horror, literary narrative, intersectional fiction—this novel lives effortlessly in all of these modes at once." — Ina Roy-Faderman, The Rumpus
"Through rich prose and an open-ended plot structure, Merbaum crafts a sensual, scary, and surprisingly hopeful story about survival. The queer feminist writer uses liminal spaces, locked doors, and hushed corridors to explore Jaime and Cly’s ambiguous relationships to grief, love, family, and their sense of self. Long after finishing The Gold Persimmon, readers will yearn for an extended stay within this tale." — Maggie Chirdo, The Interlude
"The Gold Persimmon encourages readers to look beyond the happenings and events they may perceive as ends and instead utilize them as new, much needed beginnings. Ultimately, the power and charm of The Gold Persimmon is that readers can take from it what they want. Should readers want a horror story, they have it. Should they desire a more serious work that embraces non-convention and experimentation on all levels, they have that as well. More significantly, readers seeking a challenge to the heterosexual, cis-gendered characters appearing in much of mainstream literature find their heroines in these pages. The Gold Persimmon is atmospheric, ethereal, a spell well-cast. Merbaum’s writing is tight, elegantly detailed, and captures the most vulnerable parts of not only the human soul, but also of everyday existence." — Nicole Yurcaba, Sage and Cigarettes
"Even attempting to categorize this brilliantly intersectional novel seems like an injustice—it’s horror, yes, but it’s also queer feminist fiction, wildly thought-provoking speculative fiction, and a darkly hypnotic work of literary fiction about transformation, metamorphosis, becoming. Featuring deeply developed queer and nonbinary characters, and set largely within strange New York City specialty hotels in parallel realities, Merbaum’s debut is like a micro-dose of literary psilocybin—as the story unfolds, the narrative becomes increasingly surreal, warped, hallucinatory. A nightmarish vision quest through alternate New York City hotels that ultimately leads both characters and readers to enlightenment." — Paul Goat Allen, BlueInk Review
Interested in discussing The Gold Persimmon with your book club, class, or other group? Download a free discussion guide here: THE GOLD PERSIMMON Discussion Guide
Access the official, author-generated soundtrack for this experimental queer feminist horror novel here: THE GOLD PERSIMMON Mixtape