Bookworks is excited to welcome Jenn Shapland to celebrate the release of her new essay collection, Thin Skin. Jenn will be in conversation with writer and editor Robin Babb.
A GOODREADS MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK • Examining capitalism’s toxic creep into the land, our bodies, and our thinking, this incisive new work is “a visceral exploration” (Katherine May, author of Wintering) from a National Book Award finalist and a powerful literary mind.
"A wrenching, loving and trenchant examination of feminism, nuclear weapons production, healthcare, queerness and American life" —Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
For Jenn Shapland, the barrier between herself and the world is porous; she was even diagnosed with extreme dermatologic sensitivity—thin skin. Recognizing how deeply vulnerable we all are to our surroundings, she becomes aware of the impacts our tiniest choices have on people, places, and species far away. She can't stop seeing the ways we are enmeshed and entangled with everyone else on the planet. Despite our attempts to cordon ourselves off from risk, our boundaries are permeable. Weaving together historical research, interviews, and her everyday life in New Mexico, Shapland probes the lines between self and work, human and animal, need and desire. She traces the legacies of nuclear weapons development on Native land, unable to let go of her search for contamination until it bleeds out into her own family’s medical history. She questions the toxic myth of white womanhood and the fear of traveling alone that she’s been made to feel since girlhood. And she explores her desire to build a creative life as a queer woman, asking whether such a thing as a meaningful life is possible under capitalism. Ceaselessly curious, uncompromisingly intelligent, and urgently seeking, with Thin Skin Shapland builds thrillingly on her genre-defying debut My Autobiography of Carson McCullers (“Gorgeous, symphonic, tender, and brilliant” —Carmen Machado), firmly establishing herself as one of the sharpest essayists of her generation.
Jenn Shapland is a writer living in New Mexico. Her first book, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award and the Southern Book Prize, and won the 2021 Lambda Literary Award, the Judy Grahn Award, and the Christian Gauss Award. Her second book, Thin Skin, will be published by Pantheon Books in 2023.
Jenn's essays have appeared in New England Review, the New York Times, Guernica, and Tin House, and have been awarded a Pushcart Prize and the Rabkin Foundation Award. Her research and writing have been supported by residencies at Aspen Words, Yaddo, Ucross, and Vermont Studio Center and by fellowships from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the Howard Foundation. She has a PhD in English from the University of Texas at Austin and she works as an archivist for a visual artist.