Literary Hub is pleased to reveal the cover for Jenn Shapland’s Thin Skin, a collection of essays forthcoming from Pantheon Books in August 2023. This collection is Shapland’s latest since her debut memoir, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Here’s some more about the book, from the publisher:
For Jenn Shapland, the barrier between herself and the world is porous; she was even diagnosed with extreme dermatologic sensitivity—thin skin. Recognizing how deeply vulnerable we all are to our surroundings, she becomes aware of the impacts our tiniest choices have on people, places, and species far away. She can’t stop seeing the ways we are enmeshed and entangled with everyone else on the planet. Despite our attempts to cordon ourselves off from risk, our boundaries are permeable.
Weaving together historical research, interviews, and her everyday life in New Mexico, Shapland probes the lines between self and work, human and animal, need and desire. She traces the legacies of nuclear weapons development on Native land, unable to let go of her search for contamination until it bleeds out into her own family’s medical history. She questions the toxic myth of white womanhood and the fear of traveling alone that she’s been made to feel since girlhood. And she explores her desire to build a creative life as a queer woman, asking whether such a thing as a meaningful life is possible under capitalism.
Here’s the beautiful cover, designed by Tom Etherington:
“The brilliant way that Shapland’s essays expand from the personal to the natural and political world was a great starting point for the cover. I initially made shapes and lines with the human form – hands and arms – and layered them until it created a strata like pattern,” Etherington told Lit Hub. “The final cover is fairly abstract, but it feels appropriate that this abstract image is built from figurative elements. The colour palette is directly inspired by the natural landscape in New Mexico, where the author lives.”
Shapland reflected on her inspiration, saying, “I had a vision of an image that would appear shiny and enticing on the surface, with darkness lurking beneath.”
To my editor, Naomi, I used words like ‘entanglement, enmeshment, dissolving edges between things. Cozy and inviting, but also decaying.’ I had no clue what this might actually look like, but when I sent her a set of recent book covers I liked, it turned out two out of three were by Tom Etherington. The cover Tom designed captures all these big concepts with such simplicity. I love that he incorporated the pinks and blues and yellows of the landscape of northern New Mexico, the poisonous green hinting at nuclear waste. The placement of the title gives a sense of vastness.
Thin Skin will be published by Pantheon Books on August 15, 2023. You can preorder it here.