Acts of Service: A Novel (Hardcover)
May 2022 Indie Next List
“Hands down, the best thing I’ve read in months. Acts of Service complicates well-trod territory — beauty, power, sex, degradation, privilege — in a way that feels honest. Tender, totally absorbing, wholly original. I love this book.”
— Claire Davey, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA
A “bold and unflinchingly sexy” (Vogue) debut novel about a young woman who follows her desires into a world of pleasure, decadence, and privilege, unraveling everything she thought she knew about sex . . . and herself.
“One of the most entertaining books about sex I’ve ever read . . . The perfect read for fans of Raven Leilani and Ottessa Moshfegh, this is a book that will have people talking.”—BuzzFeed
“A sex masterpiece.”—The Guardian
A Kaia Gerber Book Club Pick • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The New Yorker and The Hollywood Reporter
“Anytime I want, I can forsake this dinner party and jump into real life.”—Eve Babitz
Eve has an adoring girlfriend, an impulsive streak, and a secret fear that she’s wasting her brief youth with just one person. So one evening she posts some nudes online. This is how Eve meets Olivia, and through Olivia the charismatic Nathan. Despite her better instincts, the three soon begin a relationship—one that disturbs Eve as much as it enthralls her.
As each act of their complicated, three-way affair unfolds across a cold and glittering New York, Eve is forced to confront the questions that most consume her: What do we bring to sex? What does it reveal of ourselves, and one another? And how do we reconcile what we want with what we think we should want?
In the way only great fiction can, Acts of Service takes between its teeth the contradictions written all over our ideas of sex and sexuality. At once juicy and intellectually challenging, sacred and profane, Lillian Fishman’s riveting debut is bold, unabashed, and required reading of the most pleasurable sort.
About the Author
Lillian Fishman was born in 1994 and lives in New York. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was a Jill Davis Fellow. Acts of Service is her first novel.
“Extraordinary . . . a work of ferocious moral and sensual intelligence and a masterly defense of sex for its own sake.”—The Guardian
“A stylish, elegant piece of provocation that is also as sincere and searching as its heroine. Even if it pisses you off, it’s hard not to keep turning the pages. Acts of Service is a bold, promising debut.”—Mary Gaitskill
“Radical, daring and bracing . . . It is a book of exciting, provocative complexity, and, for me, it made the human creature feel like something new.”—Sheila Heti, author of Pure Color
“Fishman’s seductive debut novel centers questions of sexuality and sex, sexual freedom and power.”—Autostraddle
“Searching and enthralling . . . [Acts of Service] arrives with quiet confidence and a fully formed bank of ideas about intimacy, sexual ethics and contemporary mores.” —The New Statesman
“A radical understanding of the multi-hyphenate definitions of sexual orientation . . . Using sex as a road map, Eve is searching to understand her own inner workings as a young woman. We tend to love what disturbs us, if we are willing to follow our desires and take the risk.”—Interview
“A fun debut novel that feels like the life story of half of Brooklyn.”—Nylon
“Reminiscent of Sally Rooney’s work . . . An evocative exploration of desire and sexuality, this dark debut will cause readers to question the very nature of consent.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Fishman’s alluring debut poses questions about sex, sexuality, and power via the story of a young woman’s exploration of desire. Smooth and smart.”—Publishers Weekly
“Acts of Service doesn’t kiss you first, it gets right to it—depicting the liquid frequencies of need and power with a thoughtful, savage eye.”—Raven Leilani, author of Luster
“Fascinating . . a book of exquisite moral refinement and almost intimidating elegance.”—Edmund White, author of A Boy’s Own Story and States of Desire
“Acts of Service doesn’t shy away from asking big questions about the nature of attraction. All this, but with a great deal of page-turning pleasure.”—Gary Shteyngart, author of Our Country Friends and Super Sad Love Love Story
“A kind of supercharged combo of Sally Rooney and Ottessa Moshfegh, and as smart as Joan Didion, Fishman isn’t just a brilliant writer—she’s a brilliant feeler, a great thinker. She has the gift we open books for.”—David Lipsky, author of The Art Fair
“Months after turning the final page, I'm still thinking about this fiercely wily novel.”—Heidi Julavits, author of The Folded Clock
“Stunning. . . I didn’t want it to end.”—Saskia Vogel, author of Permission
“I cannot recall the last time I felt this exhilarated and transformed by a novel. Acts of Service electrified both my mind and body.”—Sanaë Lemoine, author of The Margot Affair
“Taut, thorny, and sublimely fraught. . . This book is electric.”—Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun