Shit is Real

Included on Best of 2018 lists from the New York Public Library and the Globe & Mail!

“Depression and loneliness and how people cope are aptly explored through Aisha Franz’s often surreal pencil drawings.”—The Globe & Mail’s Best 100 Books of 2018

A broken-hearted woman drifts into depression as she occupies her traveling neighbor’s apartment

After an unexpected breakup, a young woman named Selma experiences a series of reveries and emotional setbacks. Struggling to relate to her friends and accomplish even the simplest tasks like using a modern laundromat, she sinks deeper into depression. After witnessing another couple break-up and chancing upon the jilted male of the couple, Anders, at his pet store job, Selma realizes that her mysterious neighbor is the woman of that same couple. Her growing despair distances her from from her eager and sympathetic friend. One day, as the mysterious glamorous neighbor is leaving for a business trip, Selma discovers the woman has dropped her key card to her apartment. Selma initially resists but eventually she presses the key to her neighbors lock and enters.

Aisha Franz is a master of portraying feminine loneliness and confusion while keeping her characters tough and real. Her artwork shifts from sparseness to detailed futurist with ease. Her characters fidget and twirl as they zip through a world both foreign and familiar. Base human desires and functions alternate with dreamlike symbolism to create a tension-filled tale of the nightmare that is modern life.


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"Shit Is Real is set in a near future where holograms are replacing workers, but there’s no glossy sheen... For all its darkness, there’s real energy and ingenuity: this is a wise and funny journey through loneliness and confusion."—The Guardian

"[A] dreamlike exploration of depression and solitude... Selma’s journey is an affecting one. Her trek to self-actualization is twisting and forlorn—but a road worth traveling."—Publishers Weekly

Shit is Real takes place in a slightly futuristic world and features a young woman reeling in the aftermath of a sudden breakup and move. The protagonist’s anxiety plays out in a narrative world of ultramodern technology and lizard aliens, and throughout the story, Franz’s artwork uncannily conjures both a sense of familiarity and displacement."—LA Review of Books

"Sexual frustration and crippling loneliness abound, yet the book is curiously buoyant and consistently engaging."—Vulture

"[Aisha Franz] imbues the story with ingenuity thanks to a surreal perspective that blurs the line between reality and dreaming."—The AV Club



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