Dancing With Chaos! Announcing Self Portrait With Nothing by Aimee Pokwatka

Tordotcom Publishing is delighted to announce the acquisition of two books from debut novelist, Aimee Pokwatka.

In Self-Portrait With Nothing we meet Pepper Rafferty. Abandoned as an infant on the local veterinarian’s front porch, Pepper was raised by two loving mothers, and now at thirty-six is married to the stable, supportive Ike. She’s never told anyone that at fifteen she discovered the identity of her biological mother.

That’s because her birth mother is Ula Frost, a reclusive painter famous for the outrageous claims that her portraits summon their subjects’ doppelgangers from parallel universes. Researching the rumors, Pepper couldn’t help but wonder: Was there a parallel universe in which she was more confident, more accomplished, better able to accept love? A universe in which Ula decided she was worth keeping? A universe in which Ula’s rejection didn’t still hurt too much to share?

Self-Portrait With Nothing is a novel that reminds us that living our best life sometimes means embracing the imperfect one we already have.

Aimee Pokwatka said:

“In the worst possible year, learning that this story found a home at Tordotcom, which has published so many writers whose work I love and admire, was the best possible news. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work on this novel with Lee Harris and the rest of the team, and I’m filled with joy and gratitude knowing my work will be in such good hands.”

Aimee’s editor, Lee Harris, said:

“When Aimee’s agent sent me the pitch for this book I was intrigued. I love books that are set in the “real” world, but twisted by a few degrees. And this was a book that kept me guessing. More than that—it was a book that, while I was guessing, kept me desperate to turn the page. I’d love to tell you how much fun this book is, but my words would be insufficient. Hmmm… perhaps I need to learn to paint…”

Aimee Pokwatka grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia. She studied anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and received her MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University. Her work has been published in Fairy Tale Review, Outlook Springs, Hunger Mountain, and elsewhere. She lives in New York with her family.

The books were were acquired in a deal negotiated by Tordotcom’s Executive Editor Lee Harris and Aimee’s agent Stacia Decker of the Dunow, Carlson and Lerner Literary Agency in a worldwide deal.

Self-Portrait With Nothing will be published in Summer 2022, with an untitled second novel a year later.


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