Play by Jess Taylor

Play by Jess Taylor


Literary Fiction
Publication Date: April 23, 2024
5.25 x 8 inches
355 pages
Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781771668798

Trade Paperback

You will talk about 2016. 
You will talk about The Lighted City. 
You will be brave and truthful. 
You will get to the bottom of what happened.

Paul (Paulina) Hayes loves her cousin Adrian. Inseparable from a young age, they play The Lighted City, an imaginary world where they pretend to live together and can escape a childhood that seems both too sad and too grown-up. But The Lighted City isn’t without danger.

Years later, Paul is struggling with PTSD after a season of turmoil—one in which Adrian is dead, and radio and television are filled with reports of missing children. Just as stability is settling into her life and relationships, Paul is dragged back into the fate that Adrian seems to have scripted for them. And so she finds herself journeying across the country, down into a ravine, and back to The Lighted City, where so much of her childhood played out. Only by doing so can she begin to come to terms with “the day everything happened”—and what has unfolded since then.

With a unique blend of contemporary storytelling and psychological fiction, Play is a haunting, riveting novel that reminds us of both the beauty and danger of imagination.

Praise for Play

“Jess Taylor’s Play is at once haunted and haunting, a frightening and ultimately compassionate story of the painful and winding path one person takes in the lurch toward healing. It’s a novel full of light and heart even in its darkest moments: a beautiful, compelling debut.” —Liz Harmer, author of Strange Loops

“In Play, Jess Taylor has created a uniquely gentle sort of dread, weaving a story that is compelling and compassionate, and burning with profoundly moving insight about trauma, the power of art, and our deep need for connection.” —Jessica Westhead, author of Avalanche and Worry

About the Author

Jess Taylor is a Tkaronto (Toronto) writer and poet. She is the author of Pauls, the title story of which won the 2013 Gold Fiction National Magazine Award, and Just Pervs, a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Fiction. Her story “Two Sex Addicts Fall in Love” was longlisted for the 2018 Journey Prize. Play is her debut novel.