Arts & Humanities Campus News

Novel crafts a story about false promises of reinvention

Lindsey Harding’s “Pilgrims 2.0” follows four women aboard PILGRIM, a luxury cruise line that promises complete reinvention through plastic surgery. The journey is made possible by the ship’s captain and visionary plastic surgeon, Dr. Walter Heston, and the self-learning artificial intelligence called BECCA alongside the vessel’s all-male crew of stewards, deck hands, technicians and cosmetic practitioners.

On the eve of Cruise #52, the novel introduces the four women eager for transformation. Bianca is an aging athlete determined to resume the competitive tennis career that was sidelined by motherhood. Nicole hopes that a mommy makeover will mean she can stop hiding herself and her debt from her husband. Lyla is an infertile maternity-ward nurse desperate to experience pregnancy. Annalie wants to stop seeing her dead twin whenever she looks in the mirror. Heston sits in the center of the story, driven to do with bodies what his late wife, Rebecca, could do with computer code—make the impossible, possible.

As the hopes, histories and obsessions of clients and crew members collide, PILGRIM finds rough seas. When a disruptive crewman’s pranks turn dangerous, it becomes clear that not everyone will return to the Port of Los Angeles—not as themselves, and maybe not with their lives.

Harding is the director of the Writing Intensive Program at UGA and professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ English department. She will have a launch event and book signing at Avid Bookshop to celebrate the release of “Pilgrims 2.0.” The event, sponsored by the English department, takes place on Nov. 15 from 7-8 p.m. at Ciné. For accessibility requests, please contact