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Publication Date: September 01, 2020

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Payback

A Novel

By Mary Gordon

A novel of lifelong reckoning between two women

Unbeknownst to her many fans, Quin Archer, the revenge-loving queen of the reality-TV show PAYBACK, was once an angry teen named Heidi. Her true story may be known only to Agnes, who was her art teacher at a private New England girls' school in the 1970s. Then a young woman herself, Agnes saw a spark of originality in the brooding Heidi. But when she suggests Heidi visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the girl returns with a disastrous account of having been picked up at the museum by an older man. Agnes's stunned response will haunt both women for decades.

Mary Gordon narrates this tale of #MeToo misunderstanding, from a time before there was language to contain it, with a sharp sense of life's changing tempo. She carries us through Heidi's disappearance and reinvention as Quin, and Agnes's escape into career and family in Italy--until, inevitably, they meet again. A remarkable book about the precise weight of our words and deeds from a writer whose moral vision is deeply rewarding in its subtlety.

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