Arcadia | Emmanuelle Bayamack-Tam
368 pages | Seven Stories Press
An English-language debut that reveals and subverts contemporary conceptions of normative sexuality, capitalist culture, and environmental degradation.
Farah moves into Liberty House—an arcadia, a community in harmony with nature—at the tender age of six, with her family. The commune’s spiritual leader, Arcady, preaches equality, non-violence, anti-speciesism, free love, and uninhibited desire for all, regardless of gender, age, looks, or ability. At fifteen, Farah learns she is intersex, and begins to go beyond the confines of gender, as she explores the arc of her own desires. What, Farah asks, is a man or a woman? What does it mean to be part of a community? What is utopia when there are refugees nearby seeking shelter who cannot enter?
Emmanuelle Bayamack-Tam delivers a magisterial novel, both a celebration and a critique of innocence in the contemporary world.