Confessions of the Fox: A Novel (Hardcover)
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A New York Times Editors’ Choice: “A mind-bending romp through a gender-fluid, eighteenth century London . . . a joyous mash-up of literary genres shot through with queer theory and awash in sex, crime, and revolution.”
“A dazzling tale of queer romance and resistance.”—Time
Named a Most Anticipated Summer Read by Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, Harper's Bazaar, Chicago Review of Books, Hollywood Reporter, Publishers Weekly, Vulture, I09/Gizmodo, The Rumpus
Jack Sheppard and Edgeworth Bess were the most notorious thieves, jailbreakers, and lovers of eighteenth-century London. Yet no one knows the true story; their confessions have never been found.
Until now. Reeling from heartbreak, a scholar named Dr. Voth discovers a long-lost manuscript—a gender-defying exposé of Jack and Bess’s adventures. Dated 1724, the book depicts a London underworld where scamps and rogues clash with the city’s newly established police force, queer subcultures thrive, and ominous threats of the Plague abound. Jack—a transgender carpenter’s apprentice—has fled his master’s house to become a legendary prison-break artist, and Bess has escaped the draining of the fenlands to become a revolutionary.
Is Confessions of the Fox an authentic autobiography or a hoax? Dr. Voth obsessively annotates the manuscript, desperate to find the answer. As he is drawn deeper into Jack and Bess’s tale of underworld resistance and gender transformation, it becomes clear that their fates are intertwined—and only a miracle will save them all.
Confessions of the Fox is, at once, a work of speculative historical fiction, a soaring love story, a puzzling mystery, an electrifying tale of adventure and suspense, and an unabashed celebration of sex and sexuality. Writing with the narrative mastery of Sarah Waters and the playful imagination of Nabokov, Jordy Rosenberg is an audacious storyteller of extraordinary talent.
“Confessions of the Fox is so goddamned good. Reading it was like an out-of-body experience. I want to run through the streets screaming about it. It should be in the personal canon of every queer and non-cis person. Read it.”—Carmen Maria Machado, National Book Award finalist for Her Body and Other Parties
About the Author
Jordy Rosenberg is a transgender writer and scholar. He is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he teaches eighteenth-century literature and queer/trans theory. He has received fellowships and awards from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, the Ahmanson Foundation/J. Paul Getty Trust, the UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies, the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, and the Clarion Foundation’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of a scholarly monograph, Critical Enthusiasm: Capital Accumulation and the Transformation of Religious Passion. He lives in New York City and Northampton, Massachusetts. Confessions of the Fox is his first novel.
“An ambitious, thought-provoking novel [that] explores everything from gender identity to mass incarceration, moves between centuries, and even features footnotes. . . . You’ll find yourself immersed, and maybe even changed.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A cunning metafiction of vulpine versatility . . . Confessions is an action-adventure tale with postmodern flourishes; an academic comedy . . . an intimate meditation on belonging that doubles as a political proof.”—The New Yorker
“A dazzling tale of queer romance and resistance against the hegemonic forces of eighteenth-century London . . . Delightfully subversive.”—Time
“A picaresque adventure through a London rarely seen in literature of the period . . . And in the novel’s final paragraphs, [Rosenberg] offers one of the most trenchant calls for progressive action that I have read in a very long time. The climb may be steep, but the view from the top is grand.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Confessions of the Fox is an ambitious debut, and its exploration of this ‘impossible, ghostly archaeology’ will have you looking askance at tidy histories—which feels like just what Jack and Bess would want.”—NPR
“Confessions of the Fox is bold for all of the reasons you already know. . . . But what I love best about Confessions of the Fox is its mammoth feeling. It takes a big cauldron of hope to make a book like this, and we need cauldrons of hope right now and always.”—Electric Lit
“It’s a rich immensely dirty detailed account of a trans person living in eighteenth-century London. Such a good read, so palpable and fantastic, dizzying and compulsively readable . . . Love!"—Eileen Myles, BuzzFeed
“It’s a rollicking yarn with a thread of tender first love, a page-turning tale of eighteenth-century devilry.”—HuffPost
“Absurdly fun . . . dazzling.”—Publishers Weekly, “Best Summer Books 2018”
“Resonant of George Saunders, of Nikolai Gogol, and of nothing that’s ever been written before . . . irreverent, erudite, and not to be missed.”—Booklist (starred review)
“This novel’s marvelous ambition: To show how easily marginalized voices are erased from our histories—and that restoring those voices is a disruptive project of devotion. A singular, daring, and thrilling novel: political, sexy, and cunning as a fox.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A riotous and transporting novel . . . Jordy Rosenberg is a total original—part scamp, part genius—who has written a rich and rollicking page-turner of a first novel.”—Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
“Beauty and violence go together; and what it is to live and practice that entanglement, under the duress of the cops in our streets and in our heads, is what Confessions of the Fox shows with lively, sexy brilliance.”—Fred Moten, author of Black and Blur