Alexis Schaitkin’s short stories and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Southwest Review, The Southern Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and son. Saint X is her debut novel.
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Saint X: A Novel is Bookclubz' Book of the Month.
Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men–employees at the resort–are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.
Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth–not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.
As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.
For readers of Emma Cline’s The Girls and Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Saint X is a flawlessly drawn and deeply moving story that culminates in an emotionally powerful ending.
THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What does the island setting contribute to the story? What about the juxtaposition of New York City?
What do you think Claire’s habit of writing words in the air with her finger demonstrates about her?
What’s the symbolism of Faraway Cay and the woman with hooves for feet? What does that mythology add to the story?
Saint X: A Novel
"Saint X is hypnotic. Schaitkin's characters... are so intelligent and distinctive it feels not just easy, but necessary, to follow them. I devoured [it] in a day."
–New York Times Book Review
"A smart, socially conscious thriller that will take you away."
–People Magazine, Book of the Week
“Richly atmospheric and irresistibly suspenseful."
―Joyce Carol Oates
“This writer is fearless, and her gamble pays off. This killer debut is both a thriller with a vivid setting and an insightful study of race, class, and obsession.”
―Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
"Saint X is slightly miraculous. Funny, chilling, moving, and throughout, deeply intelligent. We follow Emily into the depths of her obsessive quest with fascination and, in the end, rise with her as she moves on. This is an utterly original and engrossing novel written with the surest possible hand."
―Christopher Tilghman, Author of Thomas and Beal in the Midi
“Here is a marvel of a book, a kaleidoscopic examination of race and privilege, family and self, told with the propulsive, kinetic focus of a crime thriller. Brilliant and unflinching, Saint X marks the debut of a stunningly gifted writer. I simply couldn’t stop reading."
―Chang-rae Lee, Author of On Such A Full Sea
This Book of the Month is sponsored in partnership with Celadon Books.