Cover art by Michael Morris
ABOUT IT IS WOOD, IT IS STONE
Two women are drawn into a seductive web of power, displacement, sexuality, and other mysteries of the heart in this magnetic debut by a young Brazilian American author to watch.
With sharp, gorgeous prose, It Is Wood, It Is Stone takes place over the course of a year in São Paulo, Brazil, in which two women’s lives intersect.
Linda, an anxious and restless American, moves to São Paulo with her husband, Dennis, who has accepted a yearlong professorship. As Dennis submerges himself in his work, Linda finds herself unmoored and adrift, feeling increasingly disassociated from her own body. Linda’s unwavering and skilled maid, Marta, has more claim to Linda’s home than Linda can fathom. Marta, who is struggling to make sense of complicated history and its racial tensions, is exasperated by Linda’s instability. One day, Linda leaves home with a charismatic and beguiling artist, whom she joins on a fervent adventure that causes reverberations felt by everyone, and ultimately binds Marta and Linda in a profoundly human, and tender, way.
An exquisite debut novel by young Brazilian American author Gabriella Burnham, It Is Wood, It Is Stone is about women whose romantic and subversive entanglements reflect on class and colorism, sexuality, and complex, divisive histories.
PRAISE for IT IS WOOD, IT IS STONE
“[An] artful tapestry of a novel … This is a remarkable story of secrecy, discovery and self-expression, delivered by a skillful observer.” – New York Times Book Review
“One of the greatest draws of “It Is Wood, It Is Stone” is Burnham’s exquisite prose, making Linda’s shrewd observations lush and alive…The writing veers from dreamlike to brutal and unflinching.” – USA Today
“A lush depiction of privilege and power, sex and stability, It Is Wood, It Is Stone is an elegant arrival of a new talent.” – Elle
“Captivating …. Burnham dazzles by exploring the overlapping circles of need and care though tensions of race, privilege, sexuality, history, and memory. Thanks to Burnham’s precise, vivid understanding of her characters, this stranger-comes-to-town novel has the feel of a thriller as it illuminates the obligations of emotional labor. Burnham pulls off an electrifying twist on domestic fiction.” – Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)
“It Is Wood, It Is Stone is a fever dream of a book; absolutely captivating and wonderfully destabilizing. I could not put it down. It is about uprootedness, class and color, and sex. It is about women on the verge—of collapse, of escape, of self-knowledge—failing and flailing and propping one another up. It is a book about the limits of propriety and the boundlessness of grace. Burnham is a writer of such remarkable insight, it’s impossible to believe this is her debut.”—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
“An absorbing and remarkably assured debut, It Is Wood, It Is Stone marries taut, cinematic suspense with intimate, textured domestic realism. Hits a major refresh button on the genre of psychological thriller and gives us something immensely satisfying and new.”—Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox
“Intimate, unsparing, and compassionate, It Is Wood, It Is Stone is unlike anything I’ve read. It’s a portrait of a woman adrift, but more than that, it’s a reflection on race, class, and privilege, rendered in beautifully observed and textured prose that describes hazy internal weather with gimlet clarity. Gabriella Burnham writes with generosity—and with sympathy for human imperfection—and captures so well the pain, envy, and expectations in life that make up each of our pasts, and linger into our present.”—Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin