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list price: $24.99
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category: Fiction
published: May 2018
publisher: HarperCollins
imprint: HarperAvenue

Radiant Shimmering Light

A Novel

by Sarah Selecky

reviews: 1
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0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $24.99
also available: eBook Paperback
category: Fiction
published: May 2018
publisher: HarperCollins
imprint: HarperAvenue

A sharply funny and wise debut novel about female friendship, the face we show the world online and letting your own light shine, from the Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of This Cake Is for the Party

Lilian Quick has looked up to her cousin Florence her whole life. Florence is everything Lilian is not—brave, confident, quick to find adventure and American. The women have been out of touch for years due to a family rift, but Lilian, childless, single and self-employed as a pet portraitist, has been watching Florence for years. Florence is now Internet-famous as Eleven Novak, the face of a compelling new feminine lifestyle empowerment brand.

When Eleven comes to town as part of her sales tour, she offers Lilian a place at the Temple, her Manhattan office. Despite twenty years of silence, Eleven welcomes her long-lost cousin with open arms, and the two women begin a new relationship. Lilian quickly enrols in the Ascendency, Eleven’s signature program: an expensive three-month training seminar on empowered leadership, spiritual awakening, and sales and marketing. Eleven is going to help her cousin rise up to be her highest self: confident, affluent and self-actualized.

Lilian’s sensitive, artistic nature is stretched by the work she does in the Ascendency, and pushed even further by her cousin’s careful life coaching. In just three months, Lilian’s life changes drastically and becomes everything she’s dreamed of. But is it everything she wants? And can she trust everything Eleven says? 

About the Author

Sarah Selecky

SARAH SELECKY’s breakout debut collection, This Cake Is for the Party, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, and was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her stories have been published in The Walrus, Elle Canada, The New Quarterly, and The Journey Prize anthology, among other publications. She is also the creator of the beloved online creative writing school (and MFA alternative) Story Is a State of Mind.

Author profile page >
Editorial Reviews

“Our online world provides endless humorous possibility and here is a book that’s witty, timely, and smart with regard to social media. But then, quite wonderfully, Selecky’s story turns more complicated than it first appeared. Bursting with energy and color, every page delights and provokes. This book is a dazzler.”

— <strong>Karen Joy Fowler</strong>, author of <em>We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves</em>

“Dry and funny, exact and exacting. . . . Its stories are tender, broken, deceptively unassuming then unexpectedly breathtaking. It holds its delicate oppositions—numbness and understanding, smartness and tragedy—with discipline and flair, and marks the arrival of a gifted writer.”

— Scotiabank Giller Prize jury

“Nails the Perfect-Yourself 35-43 gen in all of its hopeful internet-brand-conscious pyramid-scheming empowering goddessiness. Social satire+ cultural insight whipped into a yummy froth! You’ll laugh+shed a tiny precious tear, my petals!”

— Margaret Atwood on Twitter

“At once a satire of wellness bloggers, Instagram influencers, and self-care capitalism, and a heartfelt look at the things we do to cure loneliness and feel empowered.”

— <em>Electric Literature</em>

“[A] nuanced, satirical novel . . . incredible.”

— <em>Popsugar</em>

“[Sarah Selecky] explores the power and distraction of social media, the paths to creativity, and how intense devotion to a cause can either consume one’s identity or allow one to flourish, resulting in a searing look at mass market–oriented transformation.”

— <em>Publishers Weekly</em>

“Selecky’s sharp parody explores female friendship and questions the role of consumerism in women’s empowerment and self-improvement trends.”

— <em>Real Simple</em>

“Selecky’s vivid, smartly satirical tale will make you feel like you’ve fallen into an exquisite painting, a women’s empowerment cult and a midlife crisis all at once.”

— <em>People</em>

“Strong, often understated, witty and always compassionate. This Cake is for the Party is more than dessert — it is a veritable feast!”

— <em>Halifax Herald</em>

“Selecky bucks expectations. . . a radically gentle takedown of capitalist spiritualism.”

— <em>Entertainment Weekly</em>

“A killer satire . . . [and] a funny, tender, gimlet-eyed dive into the cult of self-improvement.”

— <em>Kirkus Reviews</em>

“Selecky pokes fun at the culture of online empowerment that attracts women in particular—that strange mix of spirituality, philosophy and self-help with a healthy dash of capitalism—without mocking or dismissing it. . . . Smart and subtle.”

— <em>Toronto Star</em>

“Warm, sharp and deceptively light, with smart things to say about the commodification of spirituality; I ate it up.”

— Lisa Gabriele, author of <em>Tempting Faith DiNapoli</em> and <em>The Almost Archer</em>

“Bright and crisp. Humour and light infuse the sentences. . . . Brimming with insights into female-driven motivational seminars in the age of #MeToo, Radiant Shimmering Light speaks to our desire for community.”

— <em>Hamilton Review of Books</em>

Radiant Shimmering Light is inventive and modern. Sarah Selecky delivers a cast of characters who are both recognizable and utterly unique in
this novel that is as luminous as its title.”

— <strong>Marissa Stapley</strong>, author of <em>Things To Do When It’s Raining</em>

“The human desire to belong is at the heart of Sarah Selecky’s radiant, shimmering novel.  In the person of Lilian Quick, Selecky has created an irresistible heroine. She has once again proven that she is a writer perfectly attuned to the music of the present moment.”

— Barbara Gowdy, author of <em>Little Sister</em>

“Sarah Selecky could easily be the next Alice Munro.”

— <em>Chatelaine</em>

“Fresh and original, Sarah Selecky’s novel cleverly satirizes our insta-world but also takes its characters seriously enough to give them an ending that’s moving and transcendent.”

— Kerry Clare, author of <em>Mitzi Bytes</em>

“Vibrant, poetic and salacious… It’s no wonder that Cake came so close to winning the Giller.”

— <em>THIS Magazine</em>

“Selecky’s stories are ultra-lush and wise, wickedly wry.  She is uncannily accurate about all the tender, blasted-open moments that change us for the good.  This Cake… is delicious.” 

— Lisa Moore, Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted author of <em>Caught</em>

“An elegant collection that weaves between life’s everyday pleasures and everyday pain…a beautiful book”

— <em>Torontoist</em>

“If you pack this book in your tote for a long weekend spent by a lake, don’t be surprised to find you’re completely ignoring your friends. The story of Lilian Quick’s enlightenment amidst the world of personal development in Manhattan demands you keep reading ’til it’s done.”

— Daphne Gordon, author of <em>Walking with Walser</em>

“Darkly hilarious . . . an unforgettable take on authenticity, success, and storytelling in today’s digital age.”

— <em>Bustle</em>

“Ridiculously witty. Compelling, clever and exceptionally crafted, This Cake really delivers.”

— <em>The Globe and Mail</em>

Praise for This Cake is For the Party


“Reflecting on the women’s empowerment movement and pyramid schemes with wit, insight, and empathy, Selecky showcases the difficulties of having and achieving in the modern world, while questioning what successful womanhood—and adulthood—is all about.”

— <em>Mind Body Green</em>

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Reader Reviews

Loved it!

This book is about Lillian, a pet portrait artist, who is barely getting by, but feels pretty content in her life, in most ways. She has always looked up to her cousin, Florence but has been out of touch for many years, due to the fighting of their mothers. Lillian is someone who spends too much time on Instagram, comparing herself to others. It is through the world of online media that she realizes her cousin has re-branded herself as "Eleven" and is now a powerful lifestyle guru. She sees that Eleven is holding an event in Toronto and receives a surprise message inviting her to come along for free! From this meeting Lillian ends up moving to New York to work for Eleven at the "Temple" and "find herself." Of course once Lillian gets there it is a whole new world to figure out, a world of appearances, newsletters, selling products and "being your best self". 
This satire book made me think a lot. I couldn't put it down, I found the story very compelling and written in a very unique voice. It felt a lot different than most of the books I read, in a good way. I like how the author put in email newsletters from a lot of the characters directly into the book, they made me laugh and were so telling of the world we live in today.

It made me feel a little bit better about the appearances people give us and the way we are all hiding behind perfection. Maybe at the very least, it's going to make me pull back a bit from constant comparison to others and the chase of a non exsisting perfection. 

Also, I liked the ending, the way we are left wondering what choices Lillian has made and not knowing for sure. I am hoping the best for her. 

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