Books distributed by the Chicago Distribution Center

350 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2023

ISBN (pbk): 978-1-946724-69-4

ISBN (ebook): 978-1-946724-70-0

Published November 2023

Pilgrims 2.0

A Novel


Lindsey Harding


PILGRIM, Canterbury Cruise Line’s flagship, promises its passengers not just a luxurious fortnight away but the opportunity for reinvention. This extraordinary journey is made possible by the captain and visionary plastic surgeon Dr. Walter Heston, by the vessel’s self-learning artificial intelligence called BECCA, and an all-male crew of room stewards, deck hands, technicians, and cosmetic practitioners.

Pilgrims 2.0 begins on the eve of Cruise #52 and follows four women eager for transformation. Meet Bianca, the aging athlete determined to resume the competitive tennis career that motherhood sidelined. Meet Nicole, whose mommy makeover will mean she can stop hiding herself, and so much debt, from her husband. Meet Lyla, an infertile maternity-ward nurse desperate to experience pregnancy. And Annalie, who wants only to stop seeing her dead twin every time she looks in the mirror. At the center of the story is Dr. Heston himself, driven to do with bodies what his late wife, Rebecca, could do with computer code—make possible.

But “excursions” like these aren’t always smooth sailing, especially on this voyage, where in the confined space of the cruise ship, the hopes, histories, and obsessions of clients and crew members collide. Some of those who embarked won’t return to the Port of Los Angeles, at least not fully, at least not as themselves, and when a disruptive crewman’s pranks turn dangerous, maybe not with their lives.

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About the Author

Lindsey Harding directs the Writing Intensive Program at the University of Georgia, where she earned her PhD in English in 2015. Her recent flash fiction and stories have appeared in Lost Balloon, CRAFT, apt, Spry, and Prick of the Spindle. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband and four children.

Lindsey Harding

Photo Credit: Cambridge Jones

Praise for Pilgrims 2.0

Pilgrims 2.0 is satirically sharp, propulsive, and wickedly entertaining. In her marvelous debut, Lindsey Harding expertly manages a large cast of character and dazzles with her powers of invention.”
—Chris Bachelder

Harding is interested in the complications, the nuances. She faces the question “Why would someone want to reinvent themselves completely?” not through the moralistic lens of a scathing satirist, but through the compassionate eyes of a curious modernist. As a result, the reader enjoys a truly rewarding experience. Where the novel could easily become mocking or mean, she stays the course and produces a compelling narrative with fully realized characters. There’s no doubt Harding is a fresh voice well worth our attention.”
The Chicago Review of Books

“[A] cutting and satirical romp that brings both laughter and moments of real poignancy.”
Shelf Awareness

“Harding’s debut novel sets an unsettling mood from the start, with short chapters that propel the story along. The inclusion of multiple characters’ perspectivesfrom passengers to crewmen to doctors to the AI system itselfgives a full picture of good intentions, deep sadness, and even some less-than-noble motives. Book clubs may find much to discuss about the nature of our relationships with ourselves and others and the dissonance between improved physical appearance and contentment.”

Pilgrims 2.0 is a stunning portrayal of desperation that holds buoyancy in its empathy and finds brutality in asking where the line of violence is drawn or if, perhaps, the line has been drawn too late. Lindsey Harding’s debut novel is a knockout, solidifying her place in the pantheon of timely and affecting contemporary literature.”
Southern Review of Books

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