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Forget I Told You This: A Novel (Zero Street Fiction) (Paperback)
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Winner of the Barbara DiBernard Prize in Fiction
Amy Black, a queer single mother and an aspiring artist in love with calligraphy, dreams of a coveted artist’s residency at the world’s largest social media company, Q. One ink-black October night, when the power is out in the hills of Oakland, California, a stranger asks Amy to transcribe a love letter for him. When the stranger suddenly disappears, Amy’s search for the letter’s recipient leads her straight to Q and the most beautiful illuminated manuscript she has ever seen, the Codex Argentus, hidden away in Q’s Library of Books That Don’t Exist—and to a group of data privacy vigilantes who want her to burn Q to the ground.
Amy’s curiosity becomes her salvation, as she’s drawn closer and closer to the secret societies and crackpot philosophers that haunt the city’s abandoned warehouses and defunct train depots. All of it leads to an opportunity of a lifetime: an artist’s residency deep in the holographic halls of Q headquarters. It’s a dream come true—so long as she follows Q’s rules.
About the Author
Hilary Zaid is the author of the award-winning novel Paper is White. Her short works have appeared in Mother Jones, Ecotone, Day One, Southwest Review, and Utne Reader, and have been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
"Confronting timely questions such as how to preserve free will in a data-driven society while also telling a humane tale about rising above tragedy and disappointment, Forget I Told You This is a memorable novel—an adventure through words and emotions."—Foreword Reviews, starred
"I appreciate how Zaid—in addition to delivering a smart, surreal, and sexy thriller with a perfect ending—gets at the tensions between my generation's love of things we can hold in our hands and the increasingly overwhelming universe of digital media, Big Data, consumer surveillance, and AI—wherein we are fed things more often than we discover them."—Michael Mechanic, Mother Jones
“Forget I Told You This sets our high-tech world of phones and apps vibrating against the beauty and history of pen and ink. Twisty and textured, rich and hyperreal, Hilary Zaid’s world is dense with mysterious invitations. In fact, her novel itself is exactly such an invitation—and I’m very glad I said ‘yes.’”—Robin Sloan, author of Sourdough and the New York Times bestseller Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
“Hilary Zaid has written a gorgeous delight, lush with things not often seen—a sexy midlife heroine, handmade magic, and love letters both as plot and to a certain time and place in San Francisco. I loved every word.”—Claire McMillan, author of Alchemy of a Blackbird
“[Forget I Told You This is] not about Torah, exactly—although Amy reflects that ‘on calfskin curled around two wooden rollers had been tattooed the history of the world’—but anyone who resonates to the sacredness of text and the fragility of memory will feel those ideas being delicately and elaborately explored. Amy’s emotional touchstone is a ‘dark soferet’ [female scribe] she once saw working away in a Jewish museum, ‘murmuring over her sacred words. . . . Because the text was more important than the scribe. That was our tradition.’ Zaid’s first novel, Paper Is White, was about Holocaust historians and survivors, and in this novel, too, memory and forgetting become something absolutely central.”—Amy E. Schwartz, Moment magazine
“Deftly weaving together elements of a futuristic thriller, a family drama, and an ode to illuminated manuscripts, Forget I Told You This follows lonely scribe Amy Black on her quest to discover the mystery behind tech giant Q, a local resistance group seeking her help, and ultimately, herself. The prose is gorgeous, the plot tense, and Amy is a wonderfully flawed and sympathetic character whose intense battle between her artistic ambition, the demands of her family, and her own need for love form the beating heart of this gripping and imaginative novel.”—Erin Swan, author of Walk the Vanished Earth
“Forget I Told You This, Hilary Zaid’s portrait of the artist as a face-blind queer scrivener obsessed with ancient texts takes us to the back alleys of Oakland and the secrets rooms of a social media giant that is god-like in its omniscience and omnipotence—a world very much like the present. In this literary thriller made up of shifting identities and realities, where nothing and nobody is as they seem, one thing is a constant: the penetrating insight and elegance of Zaid’s prose.”—Lori Ostlund, author of After the Parade