cover image Sarahland


Sam Cohen. Grand Central, $24 (208p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3506-0

Cohen’s wonderfully bizarre debut collection explores identity, sexuality, and relationships through a series of stories about characters named Sarah. In the title story, college student Sarah A. breaks free of her social clique and is increasingly drawn to a rebellious acquaintance in a narrative that may remind readers of the film Heathers. “Exorcism, or Eating My Twin” features a 26-year-old Buffy fan fiction writer named Sarah who meets her “twin” in an English literature PhD candidate. She calls her Tegan after the two sing a Tegan and Sarah song for karaoke, as a code to describe their budding relationship (“it was like we had encountered the musical theater demon and could only give language to our feelings through... pop lyrics”). An older Sarah transforms into a tree in the peculiar “Becoming Trees.” The eerie “The Purple Epoch” concludes the book and imagines a world where new creatures are born from the remains of past Sarahs. Throughout, Cohen cleverly reimagines the world through a queer lens and uses pop culture and fairy tale references to illustrate the various lives, stories, and worlds the Sarahs can inhabit. A thought-provoking work, Cohen’s collection surprises and excites. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, DeFiore & Co. (Mar.)