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Pure Colour
Cover of Pure Colour
Pure Colour
A Novel
Borrow Borrow

Winner of the 2022 Governor General's Literary Award in Fiction
Pure Colour is a galaxy of a novel: explosive, celestially bright, huge, and streaked with beauty. It is a contemporary bible, an atlas of feeling, and an absurdly funny guide to the great (and terrible) things about being alive. Sheila Heti is a philosopher of modern experience, and she has reimagined what a book can hold.
Here we are, just living in the first draft of Creation, which was made by some great artist, who is now getting ready to tear it apart.
In this first draft of the world, a woman named Mira leaves home to study. There, she meets Annie, whose tremendous power opens Mira's chest like a portal—to what, she doesn't know. When Mira is older, her beloved father dies, and his spirit passes into her. Together, they become a leaf on a tree. But photosynthesis gets boring, and being alive is a problem that cannot be solved, even by a leaf. Eventually, Mira must remember the human world she's left behind, including Annie, and choose whether or not to return.

Winner of the 2022 Governor General's Literary Award in Fiction
Pure Colour is a galaxy of a novel: explosive, celestially bright, huge, and streaked with beauty. It is a contemporary bible, an atlas of feeling, and an absurdly funny guide to the great (and terrible) things about being alive. Sheila Heti is a philosopher of modern experience, and she has reimagined what a book can hold.
Here we are, just living in the first draft of Creation, which was made by some great artist, who is now getting ready to tear it apart.
In this first draft of the world, a woman named Mira leaves home to study. There, she meets Annie, whose tremendous power opens Mira's chest like a portal—to what, she doesn't know. When Mira is older, her beloved father dies, and his spirit passes into her. Together, they become a leaf on a tree. But photosynthesis gets boring, and being alive is a problem that cannot be solved, even by a leaf. Eventually, Mira must remember the human world she's left behind, including Annie, and choose whether or not to return.

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About the Author-
  • Sheila Heti is the author of ten books, including the novels Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?, which New York magazine deemed one of the "New Classics" of the twenty-first century. She was named one of the "New Vanguard" by the New York Times book critics, who, along with a dozen other magazines and newspapers, chose Motherhood as a top book of 2018. Her books have been translated into twenty-four languages. She lives in Toronto and Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2021

    The world is falling apart, with ice melting and species dying--as in our world, though it's not ours as we know it; it could well be a first draft that the artist in charge will destroy at any moment. Into this experiment wanders Mira, who is united with her father's spirit when he dies; they exist as a leaf on a tree until she starts longing to return to the human world. From ever original award winner Heti (How Should a Person Be?).

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 1, 2021
    Heti (How Should a Person Be?) delivers an underwhelming fable, a sort of Generation X Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Here, God has created three kinds of people: bird, fish, and bear. Birds are ambitious, fish are socially minded, and bears love with focus and intensity. Mira, the main character, is a bird, born to a bear father, with whom she has an emotionally incestuous relationship. Annie, a fellow student at the American Academy of American Critics whom Mira has a crush on, is a fish. Heti romanticizes the characters’ time in school, which apparently took place shortly before the advent of smartphones: “They just didn’t consider the fact that one day they would be walking around with phones in the future, out of which people who had far more charisma than they did would let flow an endless stream of images and words.” Mira is prone to overblown mysticism; after her father dies, she imagines she “felt his spirit ejaculate into her, like it was the entire universe coming into her body.” Stricken by grief, she hopes for relief from Annie, though their contrasting animal natures complicate the relationship. Just what the point of it all is remains something of a mystery. Even Heti’s fans will be flummoxed. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic.

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2022
    A woman considers living, loving, the Earth, and art. Any attempt to summarize Heti's luminous new novel will inevitably leave it sounding faded and flat. There is a woman named Mira; for a while, she works in a lamp store. Mira's father dies. Mira loves a woman named Annie. In addition to these more prosaic details, there is the fact that life in this book--existence as a whole, in fact--is a draft. It is God's first draft. "On good days," Heti writes, "we acknowledged that God had done pretty well: he had given us life, and had filled in most of the blanks of existence, except for the blank in the heart." As in her earlier works, Heti's focus is not only on the world of her own story, but on the very possibilities of the novel as a form. Again and again, she stretches those possibilities until they grow as taut as a wire. After Mira's father dies, his consciousness--and hers, too--ends up in a leaf. Best not to ask about the mechanics of this move. In the leaf, they "talk" to one another about art and death and time, in long paragraphs that don't differentiate between speakers. "Don't think that in death you go far from the earth," someone says; "you remain down here with everything--the part of you that loved, which is the most important part." But at the same time that she is contending with large, abstract questions, Heti is a master of the tiniest, most granular detail. Her prose can be both sweeping and particular. On one page, Mira and her father think of time as a billion-year expanse; on another, she and Annie buy a box of chocolates. The book is as exquisitely crafted as those sweets must have been. Heti's latest is that rarest of novels--as alien as a moon rock and every bit as wondrous.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    February 1, 2022
    In this quietly provoking and unusual novel from Heti (Motherhood, 2018), Mira processes the loss of her father in light of the dissolution of another love, with Annie. Mira once studied at the American Academy of American Critics, where she first encountered the marvelous Annie, but never made a name for herself in the field. With her father's death, she feels a similar failure: that she'd loved art more than she loved him, and therefore couldn't have loved him enough. Nonetheless, after he dies she feels his spirit enter her body before she, in great despair, becomes a spirit herself and the two cohabitate in a leaf overlooking a lake that Annie sometimes visits. In the leaf, the father-daughter spirits exchange pages of stream-of-consciousness conversations on the nature of love, death, family, faith, and our world, which is getting hotter in its soon-to-end first draft. In their words, Mira finds sort of a way forward. Mixing the spiritual, philosophical, and mundane, Heti's out-of-the-ordinary approach yields familiar feelings about hope and the universality of art.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Madeleine Gregory, Atmos "Remarkable . . . It is its strangeness that makes Pure Colour stick out, that lends it its emotional edge . . . Pure Colour reaffirms--in both form and content--the possibility of art as a personal, contaminated experience, one which interfaces with where you are (both physically and in life); one which has the possibility to change your thinking in subtler, non-argumentative ways, not toward an articulable view of the world but towards some new understanding of its nuance and complexity, or just back toward the knowledge that other people exist and are people too."
  • Town & Country (Best Books of February)

    "This page-turning novel is strikingly original, and equally explosive, as it follows a woman named Mira who lives her life in a fantastical world, grappling with the amazing and awful things that define being alive."
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A Novel
Sheila Heti
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