A widely acclaimed young writer’s fierce new novel, in which childbirth and new motherhood are as high stakes a proving ground as any combat zone
by Elisa Albert
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, February 2015
« In AFTER BIRTH, Albert turns her now-trademark dark humor and merciless lens on the first chapters of life from the perspective of a new mother, and the result is a perfect balance of light and dark. » – Lilith Magazine
“Ari’s voice is ferociously funny, confrontational, and dark; Albert uses it to tackle feminism, Holocaust memory, inherited traumas, motherhood, and marriage.” – The Paris Review
“Coarse and poetic and funny as hell, full of the hard truths no one tells you beforehand, including just that: No one tells you the truth.” – The Star Tribune
“Ari’s voice is freewheeling, manic, edgy: the voice of an intelligent woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown. It’s like Lorrie Moore but more cracked open, running on not enough sleep. » – Los Angeles Review of Books
“As they bond, the women deliver themselves (if you will) of profane, cathartic, wickedly funny arias of anger about the shock of their experience. After Birth is complaint literature in the distinguished tradition of Philip Roth.” – The Wall Street Journal
A year has passed since Ari gave birth to Walker, though it went so badly awry she has trouble calling it “birth” and still she can’t locate herself in her altered universe. Amid the strange, disjointed rhythms of her days and nights and another impending winter in upstate New York, Ari is a tree without roots, struggling to keep her branches aloft.
When Mina, a one-time cult musician — older, self-contained, alone, and nine-months pregnant —moves to town, Ari sees the possibility of a new friend, despite her unfortunate habit of generally mistrusting women. Soon they become comrades-in-arms, and the previously hostile terrain seems almost navigable.
With piercing insight, purifying anger, and outrageous humor, Elisa Albert issues a wake-up call to a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles, and expects them to act like natives. Like Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and Anne Enright’s The Gathering, this is a daring and resonant novel from one of our most visceral writers.