'A sparkling debut . . . a very good plot-driven thriller dressed in a glittery jumpsuit' Guardian
'Brutal, glamorous and genuinely unpredictable, it will blow your mind until the very last page' Stylist
Intoxicating, compulsive and blackly funny, Other People's Clothes is the thrilling novel from Berlin-based American artist Calla Henkel.
Berlin, 2009. Two young art students arrive from New York, desperately hoping to reinvent themselves.
Renting an apartment from an eccentric crime writer, Zoe and Hailey spend their nights twisting through Berlin's club scene and their days hungover. Then inexplicable things start happening in the apartment. Are they being spied on?
Suspecting their landlady of using their lives for her next novel, they decide to beat her at her own game, hosting wild parties that quickly gain notoriety. But as events spiral out of control, they begin to wonder whose story they are living - and how it will end.
'Utterly addictive. I couldn't stop turning the pages' Megan Abbott
Henkel's engrossing debut stages a cat and mouse game between a novelist and two art students in which art bleeds (literally and profusely) into life and vice versa. In 2008, NYU art student Zoe travels to Berlin for a year abroad in search of European "dignity and reason" after her friend, Ivy, is murdered. She will find neither. Zoe's Berlin roommate and classmate is Hailey, a conceptual artist obsessed with Law and Order SVU and Amanda Knox (that "sexed-up Joan of Arc"), and bent on achieving Warholian fame. They rent the apartment of bestselling pulp novelist Beatrice Becks. With Berlin's "hedonistic wells still running deep," Zoe and Hailey embrace the drug-fueled spectacle, meeting pretentious art world habitu s, Habsburg descendants, and louche seducers who deliver lines like "I collect experiences and handblown glass, but my dad bought Richter early." Soon Zoey and Hailey suspect Beatrice is reading their diaries and emails for plot material, and Hailey, petrified of them being "immortalized as losers," conspires with Zoe to gin up drama. But as Beatrice's interventions intensify and Hailey seeks to exploit Ivy's tragic death for fame, Hailey and Zoe's friendship and lives are jeopardized. The antics grow increasingly outlandish, but Henkel shines with her wry, well-observed portrait of the artist. In the end, this offers an intelligent dissection of the insatiable appetite for dead girl stories.