Synopses & Reviews
Tamara Johanssen is pushing thirty and life has taken an unplanned turn: her successful sister, her only living relative, has banished her from Manhattan to the rural crossroads of Dustin in upstate New York. Put under the watch of an attractive, married attorney, Tamara soon finds love and other salvations.
Buoyed by her romantic affair and her sister's pocketbook, Tamara gains the confidence to establish a modest art gallery that both engages her gifts and enriches her meager surroundings. When she was seventeen, Tamara was orphaned in a shocking way and controlled by a predatory teacher. In Dustin, her liberation from trauma and bad love and Lucia Nevai's warm and hilarious first novel begins. Population thirty-nine, the hamlet of Dustin is small in size but large in personalities, including Donna and Iris of the womanart factory, specializing in strawberry potholders; southern transplant Glorine, whose mere voice serves as an anti-depressant to Tamara; and Shirley Girt of Girt Real Estate, who calls Dustin "the up-and-coming arts town."
Tamara cautiously engages with the hamlet's oddballs and eccentrics, eventually learning important personal lessons from their determination, humor, vitality, and heartbreak. These unlikely relationships give her the strength to make peace with her tragic past and to finally "stay put" in her present.
"Nevai's voice has wisdom and charm, and with Seriously she announces a large talent. It will be interesting to see where it takes her." Mark Kamine, The New York Times Book Review
"Certain moments have their allure, but most things are familiar....An earnest fictional effort that, in all, still seems to be searching for what it really wants to be about." Kirkus Reviews
"It's refreshing to see how deftly Nevai tells a good story by avoiding unnecessary words or details and revealing important emotional information gracefully and patiently, little by little." Booklist
"Nevai is a writer of spare yet rich and aching prose, who makes brilliant, wry observations....Without condescension, Ms. Nevai captures the dark and claustrophobic side of small-town life...supremely honest and well-written."
Pia Catton, The New York Sun
"Seriously is an engaging, quirky tale about a young woman starting over, about the prickly pull of family ties, the intoxication of illicit romance, and the redemptive power of art." Elizabeth Benedict, author of Almost
"Lucia Nevai has written an eloquent, warm-hearted, often very funny book that concerns a lonely young woman's quest for a home....What makes Seriously so appealing is that Nevai doesn't give her heroine any of the above, and yet lets her find what she's been searching for anyway." Suzanne Berne, author of A Crime in the Neighborhood
Lucia Nevai is a prizewinning writer whose previous fiction was enthusiastically endorsed by Alison Lurie and Lisa Zeidner. In the tradition of Lorrie Moore and Flannery O'Connor, Nevai relishes the comic, the poignant, and the sometimes bizarre aspects of her characters' lives.
In the tradition of Lorrie Moore and Flannery O'Connor, Nevai relishes the comic, the poignant, and the sometimes bizarre aspects of her characters' lives.
About the Author
Lucia Nevai's short fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Zoetrope, the Iowa Review, New England Review, and other periodicals. She is the author of two collections of stories, Star Game, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Award, and Normal. Born in Iowa, Nevai now lives in upstate New York.