We Play Ourselves (US)

Pre-order here.

Media Q&A

In the pursuit of fame, how do you know when you've gone too far?

After a humiliating scandal, a young writer flees to the West Coast, where she is drawn into the morally ambiguous orbit of a charismatic filmmaker and the teenage girls who are her next subjects.

Not too long ago, Cass was a promising young playwright in New York, hailed as “a fierce new voice” and “queer, feminist, and ready to spill the tea.” But at the height of all this attention, Cass finds herself at the center of a searing public shaming, and flees to Los Angeles to escape—and reinvent herself. There she meets her next-door neighbor Caroline, a magnetic filmmaker on the rise, as well as the pack of teenage girls who hang around her house. They are the subjects of Caroline’s next semi-documentary movie, which follows the girls’ clandestine after-school activity: a Fight Club inspired by the violent classic.

As Cass is drawn into the film’s orbit, she is awed by Caroline’s drive and confidence. But over time, she becomes troubled by how deeply Caroline is manipulating the teens in the name of art–especially as the consequences become increasingly disturbing. With her past proving hard to shake and her future one she’s no longer sure she wants, Cass is forced to reckon with her own ambitions and confront what she has come to believe about the steep price of success.

Selected Interviews

New York Times with Alexis Soloski: “Working in TV, Jen Silverman Wrote a Novel. About Theater.”

Entertainment Weekly with Alamin Johannes

Quotes about We Play Ourselves

“Silverman’s wordplay and humor are some of the novel’s great pleasures, as are its surprises, however discomfiting or violent. … We Play Ourselves is not only a story about how all-consuming artistic ambition can be—but also a poignant portrait of how much an artist can learn to love her work.”
—Jackie Thomas-Kennedy for Ploughshares

“This is a book where the questions are the answers, a story of possibility that challenged and expanded the way I think about redemption. Warm in its humanity and cool in its persistent subversion of narrative expectations, it’s a sharp and modern first novel. I loved it.”
—Maggie Shipstead, New York Times-bestselling author of Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me

“The multi-talented Jen Silverman knows what she’s doing on the page. Funny, sharp, modern—this is an excellent debut novel. Its bold, edgy, strange heroine has adventures and misadventures, screws up again and again, but somehow won my love. I couldn’t put this book down.”
—Weike Wang, PEN/Hemingway-award winning author of Chemistry

“A fiercely smart and wildly entertaining exploration of artistic ambition, and what happens when the hunger for fame infects an artist’s desire to create something true. A uniquely potent take on female rage and competition that also gorgeously evokes the challenge of developing an authentic self when everything we do can be exploited as content. I loved this book and couldn’t put it down.”
—Julie Buntin, author of Marlena

We Play Ourselves offers a delightful, satirical glimpse into the entertainment industry and the price of fame...Silverman balances wit with earnestness, the laugh-out-loud moments highlighting the absurdity of writing—whether plays, films or poetry, the genre she skewers most adroitly in a pitch-perfect parody of an overhyped ingénue. Cass’s desperation for a new, simpler life is universal. As she falls again and again, the reader believes she has the heart to pick herself back up.”
—Ginny Hogan, New York Times Book Review

“Silverman (The Island Dwellers, 2018) employs Cass’ wry, deeply felt, often self-deprecating voice to tell this beautifully realized novel about choice, ambition, and revelation, with a nod to feminism in the context of the film and its monstrous director, Caroline. All of Silverman’s characters are memorable as they drive the carefully plotted, thought-provoking story. Happily, unlike Cass’ failed play, this memorable novel deserves a standing ovation.”
Booklist (starred review)

“A playwright’s public shame and jealousy traps her in self-doubt in this mordant debut novel…Cass’s dark humor and acts of self-sabotage keep the reader engaged. Silverman’s genuine, stirring novel speaks volumes about the lure and fickleness of fame.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“The quiet meditations on the precariousness and ever changing nature of success, ambition, and artwork are the novel’s greatest strength. A resonant and thoughtful novel.”
Kirkus Reviews

“In deadpan prose that belies the wackiness of Hollywood and Broadway, Silverman stages a blistering story about the costs of creating art.”
Oprah Magazine: 32 LGBTQ Books That Will Change The Literary Landscape in 2021

“With humor and grace, the novel meditates on the allure (and cost) of ambition and fame.”
The Millions

We Play Ourselves has been selected as one of the most anticipated books in The Millions, Book Riot, Buzzfeed, and Oprah Magazine's 20 Best Books of February.

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For any inquiries about We Play Ourselves, please contact:

Kimberly Burns
Erin Richards

Allison Hunter