The Complicities


By Stacey D’Erasmo

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“ELECTRIFYING—A TREASURED WRITER WORKING AT THE HEIGHT OF HER POWERS.” —Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

A haunting and emotionally fraught story of a woman dealing with the ripple effects of her husband’s financial fraud—and with what she knew, or pretended not to know, about it

After her husband Alan’s massive white-collar crimes are exposed, Suzanne’s wealthy, com­fortable life shatters: Alan goes to prison, and Suzanne files for divorce. Ignoring a steady stream of calls from her ex at Norfolk State Prison, Suzanne thinks she can cleanse herself of all connections to her ex-husband and their old life together. Instead, she decamps to a Massachusetts beach town where she creates a new life and identity.

Then Alan is released early, and the many peo­ple whose lives he has ruined demand restitution. At the same time, awestruck and obsessed by the spectacle of a major whale stranding on a beach near her home, Suzanne makes an apparently high-minded decision that in turn reverberates not only through Alan’s life as he tries to rebuild but also through the lives of their son, Alan’s new wife, his estranged mother, and, ultimately, Suzanne herself.

A resonant and bitingly perceptive story about the people next to the bad guys—the queasy and ambiguous territory people like Suzanne inhabit as they stand by, and the ways in which they try to thread the needle of their culpability—The Complicities is a searing look at moral responsi­bility, and about who, in the end, pays for a crime.


  • The Complicities is a subtle masterpiece. Imagine a voice—lyrical and low, intimate and insistent—whispering in your ear. Half-told truths simmer below the surface, like the uneasy murmuring of a conscience. Mesmerized, you listen. There is menace here in D’Erasmo’s disquieted world, and terrible beauty, too. Things are not what they appear to be. We are not who we think we are, either, and yet we are complicit.”

    Ruth Ozeki, author of The Book of Form and Emptiness
  • “A tricky and absorbing tale about crime, punishment and the lies we tell ourselves.”
    The New York Times Book Review
  • “Urgent and personal, The Complicities solidifies D’Erasmo’s reputation not just as a skilled shaper of disparate fictional worlds and beings, but as a fierce investigator of how it may feel to live inside them…D'Erasmo's writing is tight and flavorful; her thinking sharp; her characters warmly idiosyncratic; her causes timely, complex, and morally freighted.”
    The Washington Post
  • “A portrait of the art of self-deception.”
    Oprah Quarterly
  • “A thought-provoking examination of the stories people tell themselves and the ways that their actions intertwine, whether deliberately or inadvertently, with the lives of others.”
    Shelf Awareness
  • “[The Complicities] is a powerful interrogation of how individuals justify their actions, an exploration of the ways in which we claim the moral high ground, whether or not we can do so honestly… Filled with incisive observations of the human and natural worlds alike, The Complicities is a beautifully novelistic exploration of profound ethical questions.”
    Book Reporter
  • “A superb book club selection… Full of small mysteries that deserve lengthy discussions with well-read friends.”
    BookPage, starred review
  • “With smooth shifts in perspective and understated and precise prose, D’Erasmo demonstrates a mastery of the craft. The result is propulsive and profound.”
    Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • “As in all her finely wrought, shrewdly piercing novels, D’Erasmo keeps us recalibrating our perceptions… An arresting and intricately spun inquiry into talent, resentment, and risk, love and betrayal, self and community, guilt and retribution.”
    Booklist, starred review
  • “A suspenseful, compelling novel that raises the questions: How do we reckon with corruption and our own complicity?”
    The Millions
  • “The prose abounds with lyrical imagery. But its particular strength is its examination of that liminal space between innocence and culpability, leaving readers to judge whether these characters are as innocent as they want to believe.”
    Library Journal
  • “A multi-layered book about guilt, restitution, redemption, and, mostly, about wounded people.”
    The San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Slow burning but thoughtful and deftly structured.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “What does it mean—in such a corrupted world—to reckon with and atone for our own complicities? Stacey D’Erasmo’s latest unspools with the twisty intensity of a psychological thriller and the oceanic depth of a literary tour de force. The Complicities is an electrifying novel of powerful moral complexity, from a treasured writer working at the height of her powers.”
    Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears
  • “The Complicities had me enthralled. This gripping, human tale of our crimes—financial, environmental, self-delusional—is impossible to put down. D’Erasmo weaves a thriller of a tale, exposing sticky webs of corruption that entangle our lives and fates, even those who fantasize about their innocence, redemption and escape.”
    Samantha Hunt, author of The Unwritten Book: An Investigation
  • “In Stacey D’Erasmo’s wonderful new novel, The Complicities, the past catches up to the present and overtakes it. All the scattered misdeeds and cut corners and malfeasances come together as crimes, big and small, and the characters either see the criminality or try to ignore it. But this suspenseful novel sees it all, and I found myself enlightened and deeply moved by its compelling story.”
    Charles Baxter, author of The Sun Collective
  • The Complicities brings to mind the best of Kazuo Ishiguro's work … [A] compulsively readable, complex work of fiction that rewards attention to both plot and character while leaving room for the emotional space the reader brings to it.”
    Identity Theory
  • “Possibly D’Erasmo’s best novel yet… Suspenseful and stunning.”
    Brooklyn Daily Eagle
  • “A compelling, drawn-from-the-headlines examination of guilt, complicity, and regret.”
    Cape Gazette

On Sale
Sep 20, 2022
Page Count
304 pages
Algonquin Books

Stacey D’Erasmo

Stacey D’Erasmo

About the Author

Stacey D’Erasmo is the author of four novels and one book of nonfiction. She has been the recipient of a Stegner Fellowship in fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, and a Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize from Lambda Literary, among other awards. Her essays, features, and reviews have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, the Boston Review, Bookforum, the New England Review, and Ploughshares, among other publications. She is an associate professor of writing and publishing practices at Fordham University. 

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