A debut novel by a white millennial woman eviscerates the industries which produce her freedoms and responsibilities. She removes herself through processes of acquisition and elimination.
Valerie is an art worker in the big city, a product of an American childhood in a small place where she learned to value objects and their promise. The magic of being, thinking, speaking, and writing is all bound up for Valerie, a self-conscious creature, in the ways she can acquire and be acquired. She lives and works in a storm of things, many of which are commodities, including herself. Watch Valerie learn to love and accumulate meaning as she relates to the art she compliantly sells and the man with whom she steals things. In whip-smart, sharply humorous prose, the consumption and reflectivity of a white American young-womanhood lived in a phenomenological endzone comes delicately to life out of the sharp particulars thefted and loved in this urbane, semi-psychedelic bildungsroman.
Fiction. Art. Women's Studies.
“Sly, witty, and utterly compelling, Valerie Werder’s THIEVES illuminates how we create and examine our selves in thrall to late capitalism—and how we’re all thieves of one kind or another. This novel gives immense pleasure, and, in its vivid evocations, memorable observations, and unexpected connections, much to think about.” —Claire Messud
“With great wit and charm, Valerie Werder unravels the story of a life in order to expertly wind it back around her finger. THIEVES is a gleaming gem of a novel. It joyfully ransacks literary convention—borrowing, repurposing, stealing—but the result is entirely Werder's own.” —Elvia Wilk
“If you need a brain massage or to have your heart restarted, Valerie Werder’s prose is the place to go. Like an epic phone conversation with your most resourceful best friend, THIEVES is full of detail, empathy, and not a few pieces of precious advice. In this book, I finally found out how I lived.” —Lucy Ives
Valerie Werder is a fiction writer, recovering art worker, and doctoral candidate in film and visual studies at Harvard University. Her writing has been published in Public Culture, BOMB, and Flash Art, and performed at Participant Inc, New York, and Artspace New Haven. Werder is a 2023-23 PEN America Prison and Justice Writing Program Mentor. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with a black cat and hundreds of books.