To date, “Player vs. Environment,” by May Berchon, has competed in or was an official selection of several prestigious literary contests including the 2023 International Book Awards and even the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in the Literature category.
“The feedback from readers has been so exciting,” Berchon says. “The other day, someone slid into my DMs and asked if I was really the author of my book and then told me how it was their favorite summer read. It was both strange and flattering.”
The hip literati and those looking for what’s new-now-next are loving Berchon’s debut novel for its audacious views on affirmative action, sex, and romance, as well as its incendiary rebuke of women losing agency when it comes to their bodies. “Player vs. Environment” is a controversial read from preface to epilogue. However, in Berchon’s mind, she wouldn’t have it any other way:
“I knew I was taking a massive risk addressing gender politics, race, and antisemitism the way that I do in the book. But all you hear nowadays is people talking about, ‘Let’s have a conversation,’ and then they proceed to fire off the same old tired perspectives while not offering any kind of realistically enforceable recommendation or resolution. People are scared to confront the issue of racism in the same way that, say, Spike Lee did when he hit the scene. Like, intellectualizing it. Stylizing it. Or the way Tarantino has lambasted the stupidity of antisemitism in his recent works. There’s barely any fire anymore. Just a few people puffing smoke or idiots trying to be hateful or bullying to curry favor with people that they’re scared to challenge. I wanted to just come out and address the real elephant in the room: that there are factions that want to drive a wedge between minority groups and sadly, many of us are falling for it. PVE is a call to action to be more mindful about looking after each other.”
Berchon’s love of cinema and her inspiration from it motivated her to revise a small-screen adaptation of the work. She is also currently penning the sequel to PVE.
“’Player vs. Environment’ in its first iteration was meant to be a TV series,” she notes. “But retooling it as a novel during the pandemic allowed me more freedom with my storytelling and has really been the perfect glue for all the things I didn’t love when I initially wrote and started pitching the series back in 2016.”
It seems that recalculating the ingredients has created the perfect guilty pleasure for those who dare to partake.
“Player vs. Environment” is available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.