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Fiction General

Radiant Shimmering Light

A Novel

by (author) Sarah Selecky

Initial publish date
Jul 2021
General, Humorous
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price

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“In a world where success isn’t just about money or self-actualization, but how many people watch you enjoy it on Instagram, Radiant Shimmering Light is the literary equivalent of zooming out from the perfectly lit avocado toast sitting on a charming window sill to the dank, cramped apartment that your favourite lifestyle blogger actually lives in. . . . Smart and subtle.” “Toronto Star

A nuanced satire?both hilarious and disconcerting?that probes the blurred lines between empowerment, spirituality and consumerism in our online lives

Lilian Quick is forty, single and childless, and works as a pet portrait artist. She paints the coloured light only she can see, but animal aura portraits are a niche market at best. She’s working hard to build her brand on social media and struggling to pay the rent.

Her estranged cousin has become Internet-famous as “Eleven” Novak, the face of a massive feminine-lifestyle empowerment brand, and when Eleven comes to town on tour, the two women reconnect. Despite twenty years of unexplained silence, Eleven offers Lilian a place at the Temple, her Manhattan office. Lilian accepts, moves to New York and quickly enrolls in the Ascendency, Eleven’s signature program.

In just three months, Lilian’s life changes drastically: she learns how to break her negative thought patterns, achieves financial solvency, grows an active and engaged online following and builds authentic friendships. Success! . . . But can Lilian trust everything Eleven says? Does the new life she’s built for herself represent who she truly is? This compelling, heartfelt satire asks: How do we recognize authenticity when storytelling and magic have been co-opted by marketing?


About the author

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.

Sarah Selecky's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“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.”

Toronto Star

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>

“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>

“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>

“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>

“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

“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.”

THIS Magazine

“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.”


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


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

Halifax Herald Halifax Herald

“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>

User 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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