Welcome to my first novel/art project/experiment, The Sistren. Because this isn't a traditionally-structured book, and it's not being published all at once, I thought it might be worth explaining what it is before you dive in or subscribe.
When I mention The Sistren to a friend for the first time, this is usually how the conversation goes.
Before you start, just tell me where to click.
Okay, some reader favorites (of those published so far) are:
Eve – the woman in dreams
The Vanske – thirty kaleidoscopic sisters
Yaga – the fury, the siren
Rose – the living corpse
Somnia – the universe in her womb
Rila – the giant in the ocean
What is The Sistren?
It’s a novel. It’s a weekly story. It’s an art project. It’s an experiment.
But seriously, what is it?
It’s the story of seventy-two mythic sisters and the man trying to chronicle their lives before he is overtaken by an unknown fear. A new sister’s (stand-alone) story is published every week, and a core story that frames the novel is scattered between their vignettes. Each chapter is accompanied by an illustration from some of the best illustrators out there.
So it’s a bunch of stand-alone short stories wrapped by a longer one.
Something like that. The structure is inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. If you’ve read that or know what it is, just substitute “sisters” for “cities” and you’ll have a sense of the structure. Otherwise, check out the Contents page.
Does the book fit into a genre?
If you’re into mythology, folk tales, surrealism, sci-fi or fantasy, give it a whirl. My friends say it feels like a cross between Arabian Nights, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and D’Aulaires’ Mythology – but more surreal and dreamlike. Tonally, it feels a bit like Borges, Calvino, or Neil Gaiman.
What’s with the illustrations?
I've partnered with fifty of the best contemporary illustrators. Every week a new original illustration is paired with a sister’s story.
How did you find the artists?
I’m a big illustration junkie. Over the years I’ve kept track of my favorite artists, so when I had the idea, I had a long list of incredible illustrators to reach out to. Even if you’re not into the stories, subscribe for the stunning art.
How should I read The Sistren?
You can dip in and out, reading the sisters’ chapters in any order. The core ten chapters that frame the book won't make much sense unless they're read in order.
Illustration by James Sheridan