Literary Hub is pleased to unveil the cover of Jenn Shapland’s thin skin, a collection of essays to be published by Pantheon Books in August 2023. This collection is Shapland’s latest since her first memoirs, My autobiography by Carson McCullers, that was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Here’s a little more about the book, from the publisher:
For Jenn Shapland, the barrier between her and the world is porous; She’s even been diagnosed with extreme dermatological sensitivity – thin skin. By recognizing how exposed we all are to our surroundings, she becomes aware of the impact our smallest decisions have on people, places and species far away. She can’t stop watching how we are tangled and entangled with everyone else on the planet. Despite our attempts to isolate ourselves from risk, our borders are porous.
Weaving historical research, interviews and her everyday life in New Mexico, Shapland explores the boundaries between self and work, human and animal, need and desire. Tracing the legacies of nuclear weapons development on Native American lands, she can’t stop her search for contamination until she breaks into her own family’s medical history. She questions the toxic myth of white femininity and the fear of traveling alone that has stuck with her since childhood. And she’s exploring her desire to build a creative life as a queer woman, asking if something like a meaningful life is possible in capitalism.
Here is the beautiful cover designed by Tom Etherington:
“The brilliant way in which Shapland’s essays expand from the personal to the natural and political world was a great starting point for the cover. I started by creating shapes and lines with the human form – hands and arms – and layered them until a layered pattern emerged,” Etherington told Lit Hub. “The final cover is quite abstract, but it feels appropriate that this abstract image is constructed from figurative elements. The color palette is directly inspired by the natural landscape of New Mexico, where the author lives.”
Reflecting on her inspiration, Shapland said, “I had a vision of an image that would appear shiny and alluring on the surface while darkness lurked beneath.”
For my editor, Naomi, I used words like “entanglement, entanglement, unraveling the edges between things.” Cozy and inviting, but also decaying.’ I had no idea what that might actually look like, but when I sent her a bunch of current book covers that I liked, it turned out that two out of three were by Tom Etherington. The cover that Tom designed captures all of these big concepts with such simplicity. I love that he incorporated the pink, blue, and yellow tones of the northern New Mexico landscape, the toxic green that suggests nuclear waste. The placement of the title conveys a sense of spaciousness.
thin skin will be published by Pantheon Books on August 15, 2023. You can pre-order it here.