Radiant Shimmering Light

By Sarah Selecky

A sharply funny and wise novel about female friendship, feminist business, the face we show the world online, and the blurred lines between empowerment, spirituality, and consumerism, from the Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of This Cake Is for the Party.

“This book is a dazzler.”
Karen Joy Fowler

Lilian Quick has looked up to her cousin Florence her whole life. Florence is everything Lilian is not—brave, confident, quick to find adventure and American. The women have been out of touch for years due to a family rift, but Lilian, childless, single and self-employed as a pet portraitist, has been watching Florence for years. Florence is now Internet-famous as Eleven Novak, the face of a compelling new feminine lifestyle empowerment brand.

When Eleven comes to town as part of her sales tour, she offers Lilian a place at the Temple, her Manhattan office. Despite twenty years of silence, Eleven welcomes her long-lost cousin with open arms, and the two women begin a new relationship.

Lilian quickly enrols in the Ascendency, Eleven’s signature program: an expensive three-month training seminar on empowered leadership, spiritual awakening, and sales and marketing. Eleven is going to help her cousin rise up to be her highest self: confident, affluent and self-actualized.

Lilian’s sensitive, artistic nature is stretched by the work she does in the Ascendency, and pushed even further by her cousin’s careful life coaching. In just three months, Lilian’s life changes drastically and becomes everything she’s dreamed of. But is it everything she wants? And can she trust everything Eleven says?

How do we recognize authenticity when storytelling and magic have been co-opted by marketing?


“Social satire + cultural insight whipped into a yummy froth!”

Margaret Atwood

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“Selecky's biting, tragicomic first novel is an insider look at the intersection between the sincerity of belief and the commodification of aspiration . . . [Her] deadpan tone, punchy writing, and vivid characters transport readers to a specific, highly diverting world that hits close to the bone and sparks the self-reflection it's spoofing.”

Megan Szwarek

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“[A] page-turning debut . . . The author explores the power and distraction of social media, the paths to creativity, and how intense devotion to a cause can either consume one's identity or allow one to flourish, resulting in a searing look at mass market–oriented transformation.”

“A killer satire . . . [and] a funny, tender, gimlet-eyed dive into the cult of self-improvement.”

Kirkus Reviews


Available in the U.S.CanadaAustralia/New Zealand, the UK, and more.




“Tinged with magic.”
Quill & Quire

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “[A] cheeky satire that deftly pokes fun at self-help culture ... You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll cringe at how much of your social-media-obsessed self you recognize in these pages.”

    Samantha Irby

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Fresh and original, Sarah Selecky’s novel cleverly satirizes our insta-world but also takes its characters seriously enough to give them and ending that is moving and transcendent.”

    Author of Mitzi Bytes

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    Radiant Shimmering Light is inventive and modern. Sarah Selecky delivers a cast of characters who are both recognizable and utterly unique in this novel that is as luminous as its title.”

    Author of Things To Do When It’s Raining

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Thie meditative, funny, groovy, and absolutely beautiful book kept me entranced beginning to end. The intrigue and mystery of self-help movements shimmers throughout the narrative, and our narrator so full of life, hearkens back to the plucky heroines of Jane Austen, but with a modern wit and vivacity all her own. I loved the rich, meaningful hours I spent with this book.”

    Author of Bobcat and Other Stories

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Our online world provides endless humorous possibility and here is a book that’s witty, timely, and smart with regard to social media. But then, quite wonderfully, Selecky’s story turns more complicated than it first appeared. Bursting with energy and colour, every page delights and provokes. This book is a dazzler.”

    Author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “[A] hilarious book that pokes much-needed fun at the world of #blessed empowerment events.”

    Mackenzie Dawson

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Selecky refuses to work strictly in tropes. What begins as a killer satire opens up to some messy ideas: Spiritual teachings can be mostly bunk but partly useful. Women are easy marks but that’s because they are rightfully hungry for empowerment. And Lilian herself has strange and lovely depths that she manages to plumb thanks to—or in spite of—the work ... A funny, tender, gimlet-eyed dive into the cult of self-improvement.”


Optioned for Television:

Radiant Shimmering Light has been picked up by Muse Entertainment and will be a premium one-hour series.

“At Muse Entertainment we are always drawn to stories that resonate, and now could not be a more perfect time to embrace the journeys of two complex, fascinating women who seek to balance financial success with personal fulfillment in a very 21st century way,” said Joel Rice, president of Muse USA. “We’re excited to bring Selecky’s dynamic characters to life.”

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“Warm, sharp and deceptively light, with smart things to say about the commodification of spirituality. I ate it up.”

Author of Tempting Faith DiNapoli

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “In Radiant Shimmering Light, [Sarah Selecky] nails the Perfect-Yourself 35-43 gen in all of its hopeful internet-brand-conscious pyramid-scheming empowering goddessiness. Social satire + cultural insight whipped into a yummy froth! You’ll laugh + shed a tiny precious tear, my petals!”

    via Twitter

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “When struggling pet portraitist Lillian Quick gets sucked into a pyramid scheme run by her cousin, a wellness and social media-marketing guru, she undergoes a dramatic transformation. Selecky’s vivid, smartly satirical tale will make you feel like you’ve fallen into an exquisite painting, a women’s empowerment cult and a midlife crisis all at once.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “If you’ve ever fallen asleep during savasana in yoga class or gotten a headache from your essential-oil mix, Sarah Selecky’s hilarious debut novel about self-help gurus and the people who follow them is for you ... There’s plenty of laughs but lots of truth, too.”

    Bethanne Patrick

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Selecky’s great strength is her tone…she sits quietly and observes, letting all that commodified spirituality satirize itself.”

Sarah Selecky Writing School

“The human desire to belong is at the heart of Sarah Selecky’s radiant, shimmering novel. In the person of Lilian Quick, Selecky has created an irresistible heroine. And in her reflection and observations, she has once again proven that she is a writer perfectly attuned to the music of the present moment.”

Author of Little Sister

Audio Version

Audio read by Lisa Flanagan, an award-winning audiobook narrator, voice actor, director, improviser, and classical soprano based in New York City.  Lisa has received multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards and Voice Arts Awards.

“Narrator Lisa Flanagan will have listeners laughing at this ironic coming together of two very different estranged women…Flanagan helps listeners differentiate the two women and their idiosyncrasies…This fun story told by a confident narrator will help make any jog, drive, or wait enjoyable.” 



  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Bright and crisp. Humour and light infuse the sentences. . . . Brimming with insights into female-driven motivational seminars in the age of #MeToo, Radiant Shimmering Light speaks to our desire for community.”

    Sally Cooper

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “[A] darkly hilarious satire . . . This novel delivers an unforgettable take on authenticity, success, and storytelling in today's digital age.”

    Melissa Ragsdale

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “If you pack this book in your tote for a long weekend spent by a lake, don’t be surprised to find you’re completely ignoring your friends. The story of Lilian Quick’s enlightenment amidst the world of personal development in Manhattan demands you keep reading ’til it’s done.”

    Author of Walking with Walser

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Reflecting on the women’s empowerment movement and pyramid schemes with wit, insight, and empathy, Selecky showcases the difficulties of having and achieving in the modern world, while questioning what successful womanhood—and adulthood—is all about.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Selecky’s sharp parody explores female friendship and questions the role of consumerism in women’s empowerment and self-improvement trends.”

    Nora Horvath

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “At once a satire of wellness bloggers, Instagram influencers, and self-care capitalism, and a heartfelt look at the things we do to cure loneliness and feel empowered.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “[A] nuanced, satirical novel . . . incredible.”

    Quinn Keaney

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    Radiant Shimmering Light is an engrossing, unusual read. Most of the characters here are women who really do support each other as they seek to become their highest and best selves, while documenting it all on social media. Sarah Selecky’s first novel is beautiful, clever and quietly quirky, with a heroine readers will root for and support. It’s quite a jewel.”

    Melanie Reynolds

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Lillian Quick is an unsuccessful pet portrait artist. Her cousin Eleven Novak is a self-help guru with a Manhattan center called "the Temple" that may be nothing more than a pyramid scheme. The collision of these two women leads to plenty of delicious New Age satire.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “The world we know is slowly disappearing.”



  • Canadian Version
    Harper Collins (Canada)
    Imprint: HarperAvenue
    ISBN: 9781443455671
    ISBN 10: 1443455679
    Published: May 8, 2018

  • Audio Version
    Blackstone Publishing
    ISBN: 9781538495407
    Runtime: 11.93 hours
    Pubihsed: May 8, 2018

  • Australia/New Zealand Version
    Text Publishing
    ISBN 9781925773057
    Published: August 20, 2018

  • United Kingdom Version
    Text Publishing UK
    ISBN: 9781925773057
    Published: November15,  2018

  • US Version:
    Bloomsbury Publishing
    ISBN:  9781635571806
    Published: December 4, 2018

  • Polish Language Version:
    Translation: Milena Bryczyńska 978-1-9998158-5-1
    EAN: 9781999815851
     Wizard Media Limited (Ireland)
    Published: January 1, 2021


Check out RSL on instagram:

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “This remarkable, hard-to-categorize novel is written with the same keen insight into female friendships and the same passionate attention to sensory details that got Selecky's previous book shortlisted for the Giller Prize. In Radiant Shimmering Light, however, the relationships unfold in the context of a women-centred self-help MLM (multi-level marketing) enterprise called Ascendency, headed up by a magnetic, mysterious and monomaniacal leader named Eleven. Sounds like satire? There's a definite edge of squirmy comedy in watching the earnest seekers fall down the Ascendency rabbit-hole and wind up selling products like 'Conscious Chocolates' at their sharing circles. Yet this story also has huge heart, and I came away from it with eyes newly open to the shimmer of enchantment in the world around us.”

    Author of the Governor General Award winning, The Red Word

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Tinged with magic ... An otherworldly feeling pervades the novel, from the transformative experiences the characters undergo to the author’s whimsical use of nature.”

    Tara Henley

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “If you need a belly laugh, add Radiant Shimmering Light to the top of your reading list. This hilarious satirical novel is about a single 40-year-old woman trying to build her brand as an animal aura portrait artist (lol) and her newly internet-famous cousin who supposedly has all the answers. Prepare for a lot of giggling and a lot of cringing.”

    Elizabeth Entenman

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Selecky masterfully mimics the marketing-speak of “gurus” like Eleven: an endless cycle of metaphor and hyperbole, pet names for her followers (“petals,” “darlings”) and a cultish adaptation of language for her own purposes ... Although the cousins’ back story is solidly written, Selecky excels when she focuses on the world of self-promotion. The novel halts frequently to make room for its characters’ exhaustive social media posts ... Alongside these delicious satirical moments, Selecky includes occasional respite from the jargon, particularly when Lilian’s friend Juliette is on the page ... The novel, at its core, examines the nature of genuine friendship, freed from the need to build a brand.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “An Insta-famous motivational guru recruits her cousin to a creepy training program.”

    Best December Ever

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “[A] delicious send-up of the online self-care movement that aligns itself with social media and self-promotion. The book is extremely funny and extremely sad, all at the same time ... I was enamored with Radiant Shimmering Light from the very first pages.”

    Miriam Downey

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “In Radiant Shimmering Light, her brilliant, hilarious, perceptive debut novel, Sarah Selecky examines the enmeshing of “self-care” with flagrant self-promotion and knee-jerk consumerism.”

    Jackie Thomas Kennedy

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “In the satirical novel Radiant Shimmering Light, author Sarah Selecky holds up a mirror to society’s obsession with creating fantasy lives that don’t accurately reflect their reality.”

    Danielle Bauter

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Radiant Shimmering Light is timely, easy to dive into, and has “summer read” all over it. But this is also a literary work that drills deep into character; it’s about as good as it gets for a discerning reader. […] Watch this one: if there’s any justice, Radiant Shimmering Light is going to be everywhere on the fall awards lists.”

    David Worsley

For Book Clubs

Download the Reading Guide:

“Selecky has written a satirical and contemporary novel about the enlightenment and life-branding industries…An intriguing novel which will elicit a wide range of responses from readers. I can’t think of a more perfect novel for a book club.”

— Readings Australia


Buy this book


Amazon CAD

Amazon US


Book Depository


Barnes & Noble


Add your script here