Off the Books: A Novel (Hardcover)

Off the Books: A Novel By Soma Mei Sheng Frazier Cover Image
Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now


A captivating debut following a cross-country road trip that will make you believe in the goodness of people, Off the Books sheds light on the power in humanity during the most troubled of times.

Recent Dartmouth dropout Mei, in search of a new direction in life, drives a limo to make ends meet. Her grandfather convinces her to allow her customers to pay under the table, and before she knows it, she is working as a routine chauffeur for sex workers. Mei does her best to mind her own business, but her knack for discretion soon leads her on a life changing trip from San Francisco to Syracuse with a new client.

Handsome and reserved, Henry piques Mei’s interest. Toting an enormous black suitcase with him everywhere he goes, he’s more concerned with taking frequent breaks than making good time on the road. When Mei discovers Henry's secret, she does away with her usual close-lipped demeanor and decides she has no choice but to confront him. What Henry reveals rocks her to her core and shifts this once casual, transactional road trip to one of moral stakes and dangerous consequences.

An original take on the great American road trip, Off the Books is a beautifully crafted coming of age story that showcases the resilience of the human spirit and the power of doing the right thing. The spirit of Frazier’s characters will stay with readers long after they have arrived at their destination.

About the Author

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier's work has earned nods and awards from numerous authors and entities. Her stories have been published in Glimmer Train, ZYZZYVA, the Mississippi Review, and Hyphen, amongst others. She relocated from California, where she was a San Francisco Library Laureate, to New York, for a professorship in creative writing and digital storytelling at SUNY Oswego. Soma has taught at the University of Silicon Valley, the Sarah Lawrence College Summer High School Writers Program, the University of San Francisco, Oakland School for the Arts, Holy Names University, Gavilan College, and Valhalla Women’s Correctional Facility—and she worked at KQED, a premier national public media source in the Bay Area.

Praise For…

“This book tossed me into the back of the car and drove me out to horizons that were startling, hopeful and utterly captivating."
—Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler, bestselling author of A Series of Unfortunate Events

"Off the Books made me put my kid to bed late—but I'm not mad about it! Instead, I'm grateful to Soma Mei Sheng Frazier for this riveting read. Without a doubt, one of the most complex, cool, hilarious, politically astute, and unexpected yet totally necessary novels I've read in forever."
Kate Schatz, New York Times bestselling author of Do the Work and Rad American Women A-Z

"What an improbable page-turner! Suspenseful and political, OFF THE BOOKS proves deeply compassionate as well. A real pleasure."
—Gish Jen, author of The Resisters

"In Soma Mei Sheng Frazier’s Off the Books, student-turned-limo-driver Mei and her mysterious passenger travel from San Francisco to Syracuse and back, but also around the world and into the dark corners of humanity, as well as into Mei’s past and her struggle to make sense of her own identity and the recent death of her father. Along the way, we meet one of my favorite characters in a good long while, Mei’s iconoclastic, pot-smoking, funny, and wise grandfather. Soma Mei Sheng Frazier is a masterful storyteller who draws on humor and compassion to show us the world we live in, then asks us not to look away. I could have kept driving cross country with these characters forever."
—Lori Ostlund, author of After the Parade

"Off the Books takes us off the beaten path. You will find yourself on a suspenseful ride with treacherous twists and turns that make this debut novel hard to put down. Frazier’s soulful, conversational style welcomes us into an easy friendship with Mei, the quirky, main character. When she discovers what matters to her, it matters to us."
—April Sinclair, author of Coffee Will Make You Black

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250872715
ISBN-10: 1250872715
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: July 30th, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English