One of our recommended books for 2020 is Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

SAINT X

A Novel


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. 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.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will uncover the truth,

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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. 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.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will uncover the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

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  • Celadon Books
  • Hardcover
  • February 2020
  • 352 Pages
  • 9781250219596

Buy the Book

$26.99

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About Alexis Schaitkin

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.

Praise

Saint X is slightly miraculous. Funny, chilling, moving, and throughout, deeply intelligent. We follow Emily into the depths of her obsessive quest with fascination and, in the end, rise with her as she moves on. This is an utterly original and engrossing novel written with the surest possible hand.” Christopher Tilghman, Author of Thomas and Beal in the Midi 

“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

Discussion Questions

1. What does the island setting contribute to the story? What about the juxtaposition of New York City?

2. What do you think Claire’s habit of writing words in the air with her finger demonstrates about her?

3. What’s the symbolism of Faraway Cay and the woman with hooves for feet? What does that mythology add to the story?

4. Why do you think the author chose to intersperse the voices of minor characters, such as the movie actor and other vacationers, throughout the book? What effect does this achieve?

5. What does Claire’s name change to Emily signify to you?

6. Did you ever think Clive might pose a threat to Emily when he found out who she was?

7. What does Clive’s nickname Gogo indicate about his personality? About Edwin’s?

8. Emily’s world in New York becomes very small after she encounters Clive. Do you think that was intentional or unintentional on her part? What might have motivated her to turn inward?

9. What do Alison’s recorded diary entries reveal to Emily? Was Emily right to listen to them, or do you think it was an invasion of privacy? What about their mom?

10. What are the similarities between Emily’s life in New York and Clive’s? What are the differences?

11. What do you think about Edwin’s relationship with Sara?

12. Alison witnessed a pivotal moment in Clive and Edwin’s relationship. How did that shape the rest of the narrative–Clive and Edwin’s relationship, their futures, Alison’s tragedy?

13. When Emily learns the truth, and remembers the night before Alison disappeared, what do you think is her primary emotion? Grief? Relief? Guilt? Something else?

14. Do you think Emily coming into Clive’s life was ultimately a bad thing or a good thing for Clive?