Author: Anya Johanna DeNiro
Publisher: Small Beer Press
Length: 124 Pages
Category: Transgender Fiction, Speculative Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: OKPsyche is a long short novel. It packs a lot of narrative and food-for-thought into its pages and while the world-building remained elusive to me, the aim of the story is sharp, clear, and to the point.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: In this playful and aching short novel, an unnamed trans woman is on an epic journey to find the place where she belongs. As she navigates her many realities, she must wrestle with anxieties and fears about the world. Her son and her ex live in another state. Environmental disasters are being outsourced to the Midwest. She can’t decide whether or not to unbox the companion automaton under her bed. And some of her friends may not just be ghosting her, they might not even be real.
Review: There are some books you read, some you experience, and then there are books like OKPsyche, which I read not to understand the speculative aspects of but to absorb the author’s thoughts and emotions. Anya Johanna DeNiro has penned a stream of consciousness opus to an unnamed transgender woman and, in the process, made me think, made me feel, and made me realize that I have never approached any point in my life where I was required to muster the level of courage and strength it takes to begin life again as who I truly am rather than who everyone else expects me to be.
This story contains and covers multitudes. It ties its character to the sticking place, and we are bound as well, by a trans woman’s hopes, desires, losses, and visceral fears of the danger she faces every single day. Those dangers are indeed more real than imagined for a woman who doesn’t pass society’s purity test.
The “You” in the story, our unnamed heroine, stands as a symbol of connection for those who have gone through, or are going through, where she was, where she is, and where her hopes for the future are taking her. She is divorced and has a young son with whom she desperately wants to connect. Or, in this case, reconnect with as her true self. She lost so much in her simple and reasonable desire to live her truth, which is made plain in the sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings about life, love, prejudice, and insecurity.
She has friendship—sometimes real, sometimes imagined—but the one thing she has yet to attain is a partnership, which is presented through dating misses and, rather satirically, wondering whether she’s desperate enough yet to unpack the animatronic boyfriend she keeps in a box under her bed. What she wants as much, if not more, is to be allowed to transition in peace.
OKPsyche is a long short novel. It packs a lot of narrative and food-for-thought into its pages and while the world-building remained elusive to me, the aim of the story is sharp, clear, and to the point.
You can buy OKPsyche here: