The Pisces

The Pisces : Longlisted for the Women'S Prize for Fiction 2019

3.22 (10,870 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Of all the books that I read this summer I think this was my absolute favourite. It really blew me away' DOLLY ALDERTON

'Frank, provocative and brilliant' INDEPENDENT

'Utterly mesmerising' TATLER

'Hilarious, poignant, sexy. A brilliant story about why we crave connection and how to find ourselves' ELLE

'Laugh-out-loud funny' i


Lucy has been writing her dissertation for nine years when she and her boyfriend have a dramatic break up. After she hits rock bottom, her sister in Los Angeles insists that Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Staying in a gorgeous house on Venice Beach, Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety - not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the dog's easy affection. Everything changes when she becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy's understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 25mm | 314g
  • Bloomsbury Circus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Export/Airside edition
  • 1408890992
  • 9781408890998
  • 54,834

Review Text

Of all the books that I read this summer I think this was my absolute favourite. It really blew me away. Phenomenally written. [Broder's] writing is so creative and can be so abstract and so unexpected while also being so universal and earthy and funny. It was raw and powerful and it made me cry
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Review quote

Of all the books that I read this summer I think this was my absolute favourite. It really blew me away. Phenomenally written. [Broder's] writing is so creative and can be so abstract and so unexpected while also being so universal and earthy and funny. It was raw and powerful and it made me cry Bizarrely brilliant. What should you be reading this summer? A tragi-comic interspecies love story with undertones of ancient Greek philosophy and sex-positive feminism. Obviously * The Times * A novel that has such depth, and so many layers. If it doesn't make its way onto your list of books to read, then you're probably doing summer wrong * Erotic Review * One of the must-reads of the season Witty, sharp and painfully insightful. Looking for a smart summer read? This is it * The Pool * A frank, provocative, and brilliant debut that blends fantasy with realism as Broder examines just how unusual a shape love can take * Independent * Strangely, almost uncomfortably, addictive. This book appeals to the Bridget Jones in all of us, searching for true love and unhealthily influenced by fairytales. It's a fusion of the fantastical and the real with a sprinkling of the erotic, and is both beautifully written and darkly comic * Stylist * Literary erotica merges with magical realism and black humour in this extraordinary debut novel about a dejected young woman's night-time liaisons with a merman. Strong stuff, but it's spreading quickly through word of mouth, making it summer's cool read to be spotted with * You Magazine * In Broder's charmingly kooky debut novel, a depressed Ph.D. student chances upon her dream date - and he's half fish. Broder approaches the great existential subjects as if they were a collection of bad habits. That's what makes her writing so funny, and so sad In this dark, physical tale, an academic writing her dissertation on Sappho moves to Venice Beach, where, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, she falls in love with a merman. Broder's novel is a feverish - and often quite graphic - exploration of fantasy and desire, and the extremes to which they can take us. (And how, ultimately, nothing can match a dog's love.) It's simultaneously hilarious, sinister and utterly mesmerising * Tatler * Blazes with vibrancy ... The book's power lies in its ability to be many things at once: a howl of anguish and existential despair, a psychological drama, a fairytale, fish porn ... Resembles the new wave of female authors taking a much needed swing at the societal myths surrounding conformity and normativity, from Chris Kraus to Leila Slimani * Financial Times * An incisive look at modern love. Just brilliant. We absolutely loved it! This is love in the age of consumer capitalism, and Broder is pin-sharp on its disillusionments ... In a culture like this, who could resist the siren call of a non-human creature who is fulfilled and complete in himself? ... It's a knife-tip dissection of 21st-century anomie, and its clear-sighted depiction of muddy-headed people makes for bracing reading - like a dip in the freezing, salty sea * Guardian * What makes The Pisces an experimental, exciting work is that Ms. Broder manages to knead together the genres of magical realism - Theo, the merman, is always presumed to be real; no apparitions here - and literary erotica, all with a bemused, wry detachment ... In recounting one woman's star-crossed relationship with a folkloric beau, Ms. Broder has crafted a modern-day mythology for women on the verge - if everything on the surface stops making sense, all you need to do is dive deeper * New York Times * The Pisces convincingly romances the void * * Broder deftly catches the victims of victimhood in her satirical glance, but she also recognises frailty when she sees it ... The book has great momentum, like waves hitting the rocks ... Part satire, part fairy tale and, sometimes jarringly, part meditation on addiction * New York Times Book Review * Bizarre, erotic and mordantly funny, this is the story of a heartbroken student's romantic obsession with a merman. This explosive fantasy is one of the most original debuts to come out this year * Book Riot * Broder may be master of the awkward sexual encounter but it turns out she's a dab hand at proper erotica, too ... The Pisces is so much more than fantasy; it's an unflinching exploration of one woman's fragile mental health * Refinery 29 * Broder is just as hilarious as she is wrenchingly honest * Elle Book Club * A peerless combination of heartbreak and horniness, this novel's journey through the surreal throes of desire is a trip you'll want to take again and again No one writes about love like Melissa Broder ... This is a book for every smart person who has made very bad decisions The characters in The Pisces are so finely drawn and palpably real. These are some of the most real, relatable merman sex scenes I have ever read in any book This book has my number so hard, I'm waiting for its midnight texts Broder wraps timeless questions of existence - those that gods and stars have been beseeched to answer for millennia - in the weirdest, sexiest, and most appealing of modern packaging. Brilliant and delightful * Booklist * Melissa Broder has officially written the modern myth Honestly, read this book and you'll be totally swept up in its brilliant writing and bizarre premise. You'll never look at the beach in quite the same way * Stylist * Sappho and Tinder, mermaid porn and nervous breakdowns, the banal and the bananas gloriously litter this uncanny marvel that is pretty impossible to put down Fearless writing, merrily mixing Sappho and bikini waxes, Greek myths and self-help, and with the most brutally honest sex scenes I've read in a long time This book is for anyone that's wondered where their longing will take them next Bold, virtuosic, addictive, erotic - there is nothing like The Pisces. Between a broken-up Sappho academic and a Venice-beach merman, Melissa Broder miraculously captures everything absurd and pure about falling in love. I have no idea how Broder does it, but I loved every dark and sublime page of it Funny and dark, vicious and tender, The Pisces is a sexy and moving portrait of a woman longing for connection and pleasure in our strange and alienating world. I can't stop thinking about it The Pisces has everything - devastating honesty about love, intimacy and loneliness, tonally perfect writing, propulsive plotting, laugh out loud hilarity, and genuinely hot sex with a merman Fearless and perverted, full of desolation and of hope, The Pisces is a novel that delves head on into the many dark, absurd facets of human connection and coping in search of meaning and comes back bearing fantastic flashes of a twisted rom-com surreality only Melissa Broder's gemstone-studded brain could conjure up It's hot, it's fantastical, and it's snort-inducingly funny. I can't get enough of this book * Whimn * Melissa Broder lays herself bare but she does so with strength, savvy, and style. Above all, these essays are sad and uncomfortable and their own kind of gorgeous. They reveal so much about what it is to live in this world, right now If Melissa Broder weren't so fucking funny I would have wept through this entire book. Love, sex, addiction, mental illness and childhood trauma all join hands and dance in a circle, to the tune of Melissa's unmatched wit and dementedly perfect take on this terrifying orb we call home A triumph of unsettlingly relatable prose * Vanity Fair * Her writing is deeply personal, sophisticated in its wit, and at the same time, devastating ... A portrait of modern day existence told with provocative, irreverent honesty * Nylon * What separates Broder from her confessional cohort, as "filthy" (her word) as her pieces are, is that she doesn't seem to be out to shock, but to survive * Elle * Witty and observant ... [Broder] is unflinchingly honest about the privileges and problems facing adults today * Jewish Chronicle * If you haven't yet read something by Melissa Broder, you are truly missing out * Shondaland *
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About Melissa Broder

Melissa Broder is the author of the essay collection So Sad Today and four poetry collections, including Last Sext. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize for poetry, she also writes the 'So Sad Today' column at Vice, the astrology column for Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter and the 'Beauty and Death' column on She lives in Los Angeles. / @melissabroder / @sosadtoday
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Rating details

10,870 ratings
3.22 out of 5 stars
5 15% (1,663)
4 29% (3,137)
3 29% (3,160)
2 17% (1,804)
1 10% (1,106)
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