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March 2020 Indie Next List
“A family vacation to a Caribbean island goes terribly wrong and the tragedy casts a pall over the life of Claire, who is only seven years old when this mesmerizing novel begins. We follow Claire into adulthood and along her pursuit of truth and resolution, while her life becomes increasingly affected by her obsessive search for the answers to the mystery that occurred on Saint X. You will not be able to put down this startlingly accomplished novel, and it will sneak into your dreams! I envy anyone who has it to look forward to.”
— Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI
Named as one of Vogue's Best Books to Read This Winter
"Richly atmospheric and warmly romantic, Alexis Schaitkin's brilliant debut novel is part 'true-crime' thriller and part coming-of-age novel and irresistibly suspenseful." - Joyce Carol Oates
Hailed as a "marvel of a book" and "brilliant and unflinching," Alexis Schaitkin's stunning debut, Saint X, is a haunting portrait of grief, obsession, and the bond between two sisters never truly given the chance to know one another.
Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison's body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men-employees at the resort-are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.
Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth-not only to find out what happened the night of Alison's death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.
As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.
For readers of Emma Cline's The Girls and Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies, Saint X is a flawlessly drawn and deeply moving story that culminates in an emotionally powerful ending.
"Here is a marvel of a book, a kaleidoscopic examination of race and privilege, family and self, told with the propulsive, kinetic focus of a crime thriller. Brilliant and unflinching, Saint X marks the debut of a stunningly gifted writer. I simply couldn't stop reading."
-Chang-rae Lee, author of On Such A Full Sea
About the Author
Alexis Schaitkin's short stories and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Southwest Review, The Southern Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and son. Saint X is her debut novel.