Pew

Pew

In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous, and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew.

As the town spends the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and secrets to them in one-sided conversations. Pew listens and observes while experiencing brief flashes of past lives or clues about their origins. As days pass, the void around Pew’s presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew’s story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths.

Pew, Catherine Lacey’s third novel, is a foreboding, provocative, and amorphous fable about the world today: its contradictions, its flimsy morality, and the limits of judging others based on their appearance. With precision and restraint, one of our most beloved and boundary-pushing writers holds up a mirror to her characters’ true selves, revealing something about forgiveness, perception, and the faulty tools society uses to categorize human complexity.

Title:Pew
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780374230920
Format Type:

    Pew Reviews

  • Adam Dalva

    It’s like a sequence of Rachel Cusk scenes inside a William Gass novel, with a cathartic, wild climax. Excited to talk about this one - more when it comes out. A ferociously 2020 novel and somehow, ...

  • Amalia Gavea

    ''These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farm...

  • Elyse  Walters

    I sat thinking about this book for awhile. Easy to ‘surface-read’ - harder to figure out the mystery. At first I wondered about the obvious things: .....was Pew a girl or boy? .....where did Pew c...

  • Cecily

    BeforeThis exquisite little contemporary fable is prefaced by a long quote from Ursula Le Guin’s short story, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.But don’t read or reread Omelas before reading this...

  • Fran

    "The only reason I've gone to a church was to sleep...a church is a structure with walls ...a roof...pretty windows...you can't see outside...but...it can keep the outside far from you...I woke up on ...

  • Diane S ?

    A small Southern town. A church loving community that prides itself on doing the right thing, raising their children the right way. Going about their lives in a predictable fashion, until something un...

  • Marchpane

    In a small insular and religious town, a stranger is found asleep in the church. The young person, of ambiguous gender and race, refuses to speak, and so is named ‘Pew’ after the place they were f...

  • Meike

    This short novel cleverly explores compassion, religion and the human longing to categorize others in order to feel safe and comfortable. The title-giving Pew is a young person of indeterminate gender...

  • Paul Fulcher

    A word is put down as a placeholder for something that cannot be communicated, no matter what anyone tries, no matter how many words accumulate, there is always that absence. I stayed silent.In Cather...

  • Barbara

    3.5 stars: I’m not sure how I feel about “Pew” by Catherine Lacey. I enjoyed the beginning; it was the end that left me in a jumbled mess of nothing.The story illuminates our cultures need to ca...