Independent Publishers Group Logo

Sign up today...
for featured titles, special offers, bestsellers, and more, in your inbox!

Subscribe to receive special offers, monthly books suggestions, seasonal selections, and more!

Big Shadow
Big Shadow

Big Shadow



294 Pages, 5.25 x 8.0

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB

Trade Paper, $20.00 (US $20.00) (CA $23.00)

Publication Date: May 2023

ISBN 9781771668316

Rights: WOR X CA

Book*hug Press (May 2023)


eBook Editions Available

Will it work on my eReader?
Price: $20.00


In an unnamed town in the summer of 1998, Judy is an isolated and inexperienced teenager on the cusp of adulthood struggling to craft an identity for herself—especially as the artist she wants to be.

There is little help around her. Her only friends are increasingly obsessed with a cultish belief in a coming "Big Shadow." Her mother is afraid of life and finds solace in TV shows. At her lowest point, Judy meets Maurice Blunt, a visiting summer poetry class professor who is a "has-been" fixture of the 1970s NYC punk music scene. Judy believes Maurice—a man more than twice her age desperately seeking lost adoration—is the ticket out of her current life. Soon, she begins taking secret weekend trips to visit him.

Judy's visits to his apartment in New York bring hopes of belonging to the city's cultural world and making a living as a video artist. With each trip and frustrated promise, however, she feels the creeping realization that there is a price to pay for her golden ticket entry into this insular and moribund scene. Judy must navigate the shifting power dynamics with her aging gatekeeper and the possibility of building an early adult identity alone.

An affecting novel of psychological nuance and dark humour, Big Shadow explores the costs of self-deceit, fandom, and tenuous ambitions, exposing the lies we’ll tell ourselves and the promises we'll make to edge closer to what we want… or what we think we want.


“Preternatural, radiating warmth and coldness and colour and light, Big Shadow brims with intelligence and wit. While one world flickers in the background, our narrator enters another, but by the end, we see that the flickering is, amazingly, reality too. I never quite knew where this novel was taking me, which is exactly where I wanted to be going.” —Amina Cain, author of Indelicacy

Big Shadow by Marta Balcewicz is included in Vol. 1 Brooklyn's Books of the Month: May 2023 edition.

"Big Shadow is an addictive read beaming with intrigue . . . In magnifying the myopic struggle of art versus commerce and ambition versus reality, Big Shadow most viscerally captures the essence of the formative years of the human experience." —Aquarium Drunkard

"Balcewicz has a knack for humor both observational and deadpan, symbolism both ironic and earnest, and peculiar turns of phrase . . . At times, Balcewicz’s prose channels Sheila Heti’s wry brooding." —Chicago Review of Books

"Big Shadow explores teenage apathy in detail, but avoids this all too common problem by infusing the book with charming doses of quaintness and naïveté." —Toronto Star

“Marta Balcewicz’s Big Shadow is a deft portrait of artistic ambitions and the troubled pursuit of truth. This story of everyday grifters—the small-town proselytizers and desperate musicians—captures how difficult it is to untangle oneself from the narratives that are imposed. Smart, ironic, and tender, with prose as sharp as a scam, Big Shadow is the first of many excellent Balcewicz novels to come.” —Isle McElroy, author of People Collide and The Atmospherians

Big Shadow is a finalist for the 2023 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in the Literary Fiction category.

"Marta Balcewicz’s unflagging focus on the beauty of the world’s lost and forgotten things beseeches us to stay still, just for a second, and pay attention. Funny, moving, and a pure delight.” —Thea Lim, Scotiabank Giller Prize­–shortlisted author of An Ocean of Minutes

Author Biography

MARTA BALCEWICZ spent her early childhood in Pomerania and Madrid, and now lives in Toronto. Her work has appeared in CatapultTin House online, Vol. 1. BrooklynWashington Square ReviewThe Rumpus, and Passages North, amongst other publications. Her fiction was anthologized in Tiny Crimes (Catapult, 2018). She received a fellowship from Tin House Workshops in 2022. Big Shadow is her first novel.