“She didn’t come out of nowhere,” Ng said.
Zevin has been publishing at a frenetic pace for nearly two decades, and yet she has rarely repeated herself. Since her debut in 2005, she has written a family drama about war and capitalism, a futuristic dystopian series for young adults, a fablelike Y.A. novel about the afterlife, a quirky novel about a cranky bookseller who unexpectedly finds love and a bitingly funny one about politics, sexism and the double standards women face for sexual indiscretions.
“She has had it all in her career, she’s had a global smash, but she’s also had books that absolutely failed to connect for whatever reason,” said Emma Straub, a novelist and an owner of the independent Brooklyn store Books Are Magic, where “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” has been the top-selling title this year. “For those of us on the backside of 40 who have half a dozen books under our belts, this is so beautiful to watch. She is operating at the height of her powers, and people are noticing.”
Growing up in Boca Raton, Fla., where both of her parents worked for I.B.M., Zevin was lonely most of the time. The only child of a Korean American mother and a Jewish father, she often felt culturally adrift and out of place. One day, her father, a programmer, brought home a computer loaded with games, including Alley Cat, in which the player is a mischievous cat who jumps through windows into different apartments. “I remember thinking that the game solved a very particular problem for me, which was the problem of solitude,” she said. “It became like an instant friend.”
From there, she discovered games like King’s Quest IV and Oregon Trail, which felt like immersive worlds she could disappear into. “These were really formative stories for me,” she said.