Soma Mei Sheng Frazier: "Off the Books", with Tomas Moniz

Aug 1 2024 - 7:00pm


Join us on Thursday, August 1st at 7pm at Pegasus Books Downtown to celebrate the release of acclaimed writer and former San Francisco Library Laureate (not to mention, former Pegasus team member!) Soma Mei Sheng Frazier's debut novel, Off the BooksFrazier will be joined for conversation by beloved East Bay novelist and Lamba Literary Award Finalist Tomas Moniz—a fellow longtime friend of the store, whose new novel All Friends Are Necessary was released this June

Off the Books, out on July 30th from Macmillan, puts a complex, contemporary twist on the American road trip novel, taking off from San Francisco. Check out more below on the book, which we'll have available for signing following the reading and discussion. It's sure to be a special launch event—see you there!

About the book:

Recent Dartmouth dropout Mei, in search of a new direction in life, drives a limo to make ends meet. Her grandfather convinces her to allow her customers to pay under the table, and before she knows it, she is working as a routine chauffeur for sex workers. Mei does her best to mind her own business, but her knack for discretion soon leads her on a life changing trip from San Francisco to Syracuse with a new client.

Handsome and reserved, Henry piques Mei’s interest. Toting an enormous black suitcase with him everywhere he goes, he’s more concerned with taking frequent breaks than making good time on the road. When Mei discovers Henry's secret, she does away with her usual close-lipped demeanor and decides she has no choice but to confront him. What Henry reveals rocks her to her core and shifts this once casual, transactional road trip to one of moral stakes and dangerous consequences.

An original take on the great American road trip, Off the Books is a beautifully crafted coming of age story that showcases the resilience of the human spirit and the power of doing the right thing. The spirit of Frazier’s characters will stay with readers long after they have arrived at their destination.

"Off the Books made me put my kid to bed late—but I'm not mad about it! Instead, I'm grateful to Soma Mei Sheng Frazier for this riveting read. Without a doubt, one of the most complex, cool, hilarious, politically astute, and unexpected yet totally necessary novels I've read in forever."
Kate Schatz, New York Times bestselling author of Do the Work and Rad American Women A-Z

"What an improbable page-turner! Suspenseful and political, OFF THE BOOKS proves deeply compassionate as well. A real pleasure."
—Gish Jen, author of The Resisters

"In Soma Mei Sheng Frazier’s Off the Books, student-turned-limo-driver Mei and her mysterious passenger travel from San Francisco to Syracuse and back, but also around the world and into the dark corners of humanity, as well as into Mei’s past and her struggle to make sense of her own identity and the recent death of her father. Along the way, we meet one of my favorite characters in a good long while, Mei’s iconoclastic, pot-smoking, funny, and wise grandfather. Soma Mei Sheng Frazier is a masterful storyteller who draws on humor and compassion to show us the world we live in, then asks us not to look away. I could have kept driving cross country with these characters forever."
—Lori Ostlund, author of After the Parade

"Off the Books takes us off the beaten path. You will find yourself on a suspenseful ride with treacherous twists and turns that make this debut novel hard to put down. Frazier’s soulful, conversational style welcomes us into an easy friendship with Mei, the quirky, main character. When she discovers what matters to her, it matters to us."
—April Sinclair, author of Coffee Will Make You Black

"Delightfully offbeat yet weighty ... It’s a fresh take on the classic American road novel."
Publishers Weekly

"A vital, enthralling debut in which devastating social commentary is delivered with a wink."
—Kirkus (starred review)

About the author:

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier's debut novel, Off the Books, is out from Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan) now. Frazier's work has earned numerous awards, appearing in Glimmer Train, ZYZZYVA, the Mississippi ReviewHyphen and elsewhere. She relocated from California, where she was a San Francisco Library Laureate, to New York, for a professorship in creative writing and digital storytelling at SUNY Oswego. Frazier has taught at institutions ranging from Oakland School for the Arts to the University of San Francisco to Valhalla Women’s Correctional Facility—and worked at KQED, a premier national public media source, as well as Pegasus Books.

About the conversation partner:

Tomas Moniz is a latinx writer living in East Oakland, CA. His debut novel, Big Familia, was a finalist for the 2020 PEN/Hemingway and the LAMBDA. His new novel, All Friends Are Necessary, was published June 2024 from Algonquin Books. He teaches at Berkeley City College and the Antioch MFA program. He has stuff on the internet but loves penpals: PO Box 3555, Berkeley CA 94703. He promises to write back.

Event address: 
2349 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
Pre-Order Now Badge
Off the Books: A Novel By Soma Mei Sheng Frazier Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250872715
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - July 30th, 2024

Event Category: 
Shattuck Location