First look: Sheila Heti's Pure Colour is ghostly in the best way possible
Sheila Heti is used to being compared to modern-day philosophers. Her books — critically revered works like How Should a Person Be? and Motherhood — have changed the way her readers look at the world, and the way they relate to reading; labels like "the next Joan Didion" are not unfamiliar. Now, with her next novel, the author is pushing her philosophizing to the next level.
Pure Colour follows a woman named Mira through the book's surrealist story, in which she meets a transformative woman named Annie, experiences her father's spirit moving into her after his death, reincarnates as a leaf, and tries to decide whether to return to earth — and Annie. The book will publish Feb. 15, 2022, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, but EW has exclusive details now, starting with the cover designed by Na Kim, associate creative director at FSG.
Heti found the Ellsworth Kelly painting that graces the cover after seeing it hanging on the wall at a friend's house (the artist and writer Leanne Shapton). She saved a photo of the painting, eventually passing it along to Kim, whose initial cover concept was a simple black outline of a circle.
"The book has an organic feeling to it, and I think this final cover captures its true shape," Heti says. "The green also echoes with the leaf, which is an important image in the book, and makes sense with many other images in the book. I look at the cover often. I feel like I am falling into it, when I look at it."
Kim, who also designed the paperback edition of Motherhood, adds: "There's a quiet sense of searching and floating in Pure Colour that I can't quite describe with words — reading it felt like synesthesia. The essence of it was bright and organic, vulnerable yet hopeful, and undeniably green."
The novel has an otherworldly sense to it — it depicts God as an artist, with our current world as just the first draft — and Heti had an ethereal experience collaborating with Kim. "I had a dream about Na when we were working on the cover," she says. "I never told her about the dream because it would have been too hard to explain, but I felt like we met in the dream. I took it as a good sign that we would arrive at the best cover."
Pure Colour is available for preorder now.
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