Publication Date: 11/08/2022 ISBN: 9781913348533 Category:


Heidi Sopinka

Publisher: Scribe Publications
Publication Date: 11/08/2022 ISBN: 9781913348533 Category:



Mr B's review

A seductive art-world drama set in 1970s California. Romy is an artist-on-the-rise who keeps getting eclipsed by her charismatic husband, Billy. When she unexpectedly dies, her friend Paz finds her diaries and becomes fascinated by a life she finds herself stepping into – becoming Billy’s lover and mother to Romy’s child. A raw exploration of responsibility and freedom, and how the two need not be mutually exclusive. – Laura


‘Utopia is a marvel. Vividly beguiling on art, love, and what it means to be alive, every page thrums with magic.’ Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure

‘Tense, sexy, and uncanny. Utopia shimmers with desert heat and burns with atmosphere. It’s Rebecca meets Zabriskie Point. Luminous.’ Francesca Reece, author of Voyeur

It’s okay for men to make bad art. There’s no price on their head for doing it … Nothing for men is pre-determined, except their chance at great success.

Los Angeles, 1978.

When Romy, a gifted young artist in the male-dominated art scene of 1970s California, dies in suspicious circumstances, it is not long before her art-star husband Billy finds a replacement.

Paz, fresh out of art school in New York, returns to California to take her place. But she is haunted by Romy, who is everywhere: in the photos and notebooks and art strewn around the house, and in the eyes of the baby she left behind.

As Paz attempts to claim her creative life, strange things begin to happen. Photographs move, noises reverberate through the house, people start to question what really happened the night Romy died, and then a postcard in her handwriting arrives. As Paz becomes increasingly obsessed with the woman she has replaced, a disturbing picture begins to emerge, driving her deep into the desert – the site of Romy’s final artwork – to uncover the truth.

At once an exquisite exploration of creativity and an atmospheric page-turner, Utopia is a book that takes hold of you and will leave you altered.

Publisher Review

‘Utopia is a marvel. Vividly beguiling on art, love, and what it means to be alive, every page thrums with magic.’ — Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure ‘Utopia is a bird’s eye view of the desires of the human heart … through characters who feel and live deeply at the boundaries of art and life. Sopinka’s luminescent prose tackles the danger and vitality of artistic and bodily desire under the politically charged structures of masculine power … with rawness, deep awareness, and razor-sharp critique … This is an urgent book.’ — Angelique Lalonde, author of Glorious Frazzled Beings ‘These brilliant and bold artists explode off the page as they try to transcend the boundaries of the material world in their work. But the most dangerous waters they must navigate are those of the male-dominated world of the 1970s, which erases their art and identities. Sopinka explores the minefield that is loving men in an oppressively patriarchal world. And she captures the volatility and power of female friendships, and the uncharted maps of women’s untameable artistic drives.’ — Heather O’Neill, author of When We Lost Our Heads ‘Utopia is interested in life as performance, in the ways that we attempt to transcend our own bodies, and in what it means to be a woman artist in a world that is run by and for men. Set against the backdrop of the arid California desert, full of scalding cups of diner coffee and burning tarmac highways, this is a book as seething as its parts.’ — Saba Sams, author of Send Nudes ‘With tense and glittering writing, Heidi Sopinka’s Utopia blasts the dry desert sun onto the lives and afterlives of a circle of Californian artists, the women they are and the women they love. This is a thrilling book about artistic inheritance, jealousies, and affinities.’ — Leanne Shapton, author of Guestbook and Swimming Studies ‘Tense, sexy, and uncanny. Utopia shimmers with desert heat and burns with atmosphere. It’s Rebecca meets Zabriskie Point. Luminous.’ — Francesca Reece, author of Voyeur ‘Utopia is a searing novel about art, ownership, and the entanglement of power and performance. Heidi Sopinka’s sentences have a bluish-orange intensity, a captivating energy that conjures a desert at dusk.’ — Makenna Goodman, author of The Shame ‘Utopia is a study in contrasts: tart and poetic; sensitive and wild; bright and spooky like the LA light. It drove me onward; it let me linger. It made me angry; it inspired me. Above all, it clinches what we all suspected from The Dictionary of Animal Languages – Heidi Sopinka is a crazy good writer. I’d follow her anywhere.’ — Lauren Elkin, author of Flaneuse ‘I was transfixed by Heidi Sopinka’s incandescent prose. It blazed through me and touched my heart in the deepest, most tender place. Utopia is about a powerful bond between mother and daughter; the collision of art, performance, and female friendships; and how grief shapes our ability to love and hope. Sexy, devastating, and wise-this novel will make you feel alive.’ — Sanae Lemoine, author of The Margot Affair ‘Flames of female rage run hot in this shimmering art-world ghost story. Paz, a young artist, marries a major male artist in the wake of the death of his first wife, a brilliant performance artist whose work and life have long obsessed her replacement, and whose fatal fall might or might not have been a work of art. Sensual, mysterious, and provocative, Utopia raises essential questions about women’s marginalisation in the art world, loss of self, and search for artistic grounding, the maternal impulse, and the demands of a life in art. Heidi Sopinka had created a compelling, seductive portrait of a woman’s search for expression and the lure of rage-fueled self-destruction in the face of cultural diminishment.’ — Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black ‘There are many hints of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca … Part page-turning mystery, part ode to art and women’s resilience, this is a beautifully odd book that needs and deserves time to seep into the reader’s bones.’ — Estelle Birdy * Sunday Independent * ‘Utopia cleverly investigates layers of social issues: feminism and its intersections with race and class; gender roles in life and in art; women’s relationships; the artist’s relationship to commerce and social justice … [Sopinka] excels in characterisation and the evocation of the power of creation.’ * Shelf Awareness * ‘Sopinka’s mesmerising latest … stages a story of obsession in the 1970s Los Angeles art world … This page-turner doubles as a love letter to the daring women on the fringes of art history.’ * Publishers Weekly * Praise for The Dictionary of Animal Languages:

‘The Dictionary of Animal Languages is such a special book, suffused with an almost painterly intelligence. Sopinka’s characters experience the world with an intensity we associate with children and visionaries. Watching them navigate the difficulties of the humdrum and the glamorous both is a distinctive, if unsettling, pleasure.’ — Rivka Galchen, author of American Innovations and Atmospheric Disturbances Praise for The Dictionary of Animal Languages:

‘With stunning prose, lavish details, deep wisdom, and emotional precision, reading this book is like falling in love – my interest in everything else was lost.’ — Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal Praise for The Dictionary of Animal Languages:

‘Masterfully written in expressive prose, The Dictionary of Animal Languages is a tale of an artist’s life outlining love and loss and the surprises, both good and bad, that were thrown in her path. It is full of keen observations which are almost meditative, perhaps an indication of the artist’s ability to appreciate beauty and small details, especially in nature, which give continued meaning to life even when events turn tragic.’ — Carina Mcnally * Irish Examiner *

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