C.J. Washington’s riveting debut novel (C.J. is Atlanta-based, and the novel is set in Atlanta), THE INTANGIBLE is an exploration of the extraordinary psychological feats the mind will use to help us cope with the impossible — in particular, unbearable, and permanent losses and grief.
Inspired by a story Washington’s OB-GYN’s father told him 20 years before, about a patient with pseudocyesis — false pregnancy — a non-pregnant, non-psychotic woman believes she is pregnant and displays symptoms and signs of pregnancy. Washington never forgot the story, and it inspired an early version of the novel called Phantom Pregnancy. While continuing to write, Washington pursued a computer science graduate degree at Georgia Tech. His academic studies at the intersection of neuroscience and artificial intelligence turned out to be the missing pieces for his pregnancy novel. Mining and distilling those various elements of his own life, Washington returned to his writing desk.
“When the world is inexplicable, our explanations are apt to be creative,” observes neuroscientist Patrick Davis, one of THE INTANGIBLE’s four main characters.
Patrick first meets Amanda Jackson because she is determined to understand the inexplicable. Amanda had always longed to be a mother. After she experiences a miscarriage during her first pregnancy, the devastating loss is compounded months later by another diagnosis: Her doctors tell her otherwise, but Amanda believes she’s still pregnant, and her body continues to present all the outward signs, including the distended belly. Yet ultrasounds reveal she is not pregnant and suffers from a rare, mysterious condition: false pregnancy. Betrayed by her mind and body and with her marriage to her husband Derrick strained to its limits, Amanda turns to Patrick and his world of neuroscience for answers.
Patrick understands the strange twists and turns of the human mind better than anyone. But as he descends deeper into the labyrinthine puzzle of Amanda’s illness, his own home life is crumbling. His wife, Marissa, a brilliant mathematician, is struggling to cope with her unspeakable losses. Marissa’s unique and, some may think, macabre work is her salvation: Her latest obsession is inventing and using a novel form of high-level math to communicate with the dead. But her myopic desperation is pulling her further away from Patrick.
Diving into the raw emotions of these two couples as they grapple with life in the wake of tragedy, THE INTANGIBLE chronicles their creative explanations for navigating the undertow of life’s sorrows and deftly portrays the ripple effects they have on one another.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
C.J. WASHINGTON is a data scientist and writer. Born in Detroit and raised in Atlanta, he earned his master’s degree in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His primary focus in the computer science field was artificial intelligence (AI), both AI’s application to understanding human intelligence and the application of human intelligence (especially neuroscience) to improving AI. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and daughter. THE INTANGIBLE is his first novel.