A Novel

Will Boast (Author)

Logo markA Liveright book


In mesmerizing prose, best-selling and Rome Prize–winning author Will Boast reimagines the myth of Daphne and Apollo in this much-anticipated debut novel.

Elegantly written and profoundly moving, this spellbinding debut affirms Boast’s reputation as a “new young American voice for the ages” (Tom Franklin). Born with a rare (and real) condition in which she suffers degrees of paralysis when faced with intense emotion, Daphne has few close friends and even fewer lovers. Like her mythic namesake, even one touch can freeze her. But when Daphne meets shy, charming Ollie, her well-honed defenses falter, and she’s faced with an impossible choice: cling to her pristine, manicured isolation or risk the recklessness of real intimacy. Set against the vivid backdrop of a San Francisco flush with money and pulsing with protest, Daphne is a gripping and tender modern fable that explores both self-determination and the perpetual fight between love and safety.

Praise for Will Boast:

“Remarkable.”— Phillip Lopate

“[Boast] can really write.”— Ann Beattie

“So essential, so alive, so immediate.”— Jesmyn Ward

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • February 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-63149-303-4
  • 5.9 × 8.6 in / 288 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“An elegant meditation on modern-day emotion. . . . Boast is interested in the ways we handle the unwieldy welter of emotions that defines human existence (“We’re absolutely pickled in it,” Daphne notes), how we protect ourselves from the pain of others and fail to express our own. . . . Even the most hard-hearted reader will find Boast’s deep awe of “what it is to feel” catching.” — Chelsea Leu, San Francisco Chronicle

“Boast seems to have captured today’s cultural zeitgeist…Watching Ollie and Daphne fall in love is both sweet and fraught…[Daphne’s] plight is universal; risk losing control over one’s own life by embracing human intimacy, or remain in the safe isolation of a hermetically sealed existence.” — Natalie Serber, New York Times Book Review

“Boast’s novel is an amiable exploration of how humans might come to manage their raucous hearts.” — NewYorker.com

“[An] engaging debut…[Daphne] appeals not only to the heart but also to the head.” — The Guardian

“In his stunning first novel, Boast turns the myth of Daphne and Apollo into a modern love story about social anxiety and physical debilitation…Sharply observant, both of the limits of human longing and of the fear of feeling trapped inside one’s body, Boast’s understated tale is at once tragic and enchanting.” — Booklist, Starred Review

“Psychology and myth twist into each other in this debut novel about vulnerability and fear. . . . Boast's story is rooted in myth. But it's his perceptive take on the risks of emotion that the reader will remember.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Supple. . . . Boast precisely depicts Daphne’s emotional states, with brief, sensorily rich passages when she is on the brink of overload. . . . The novel offers a striking metaphor for the ways emotion is experienced in the body.” — Publishers Weekly

“Will Boast has written a novel that exquisitely marries ancient mythology and au courant medicine to tell our favorite tale, the love story, with insights both age-old and brand-spanking new. It's a fine, fine ride.” — Antonya Nelson, author of Bound and Funny Once

“Richly meditative and quietly suspenseful, Daphne breathes fresh vigor into timeless questions about love and risk—the unknowable cost of fully opening one’s heart to another. Will Boast writes beautifully about life’s daily moral gambles, and Daphne is an outright marvelous debut.” — Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me

Also by Will Boast All

  1. Book CoverEpilogue: A Memoir