Synopses & Reviews
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
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.
"After Birth is a voluptuous, hilarious, scaldingly and exhilaratingly honest account of new motherhood, emotional exile, and the complex romance of female friendship. I'm a huge Elisa Albert fan, and in her latest she has perfected a tonal pivot that whips the reader from laughter to revelation in a sentence."
—Karen Russell, author of Sleep Donation and Swamplandia!
"A deep, funny novel about the terrors and exhilarations of love in all its forms. Elisa Albert writes with startling clarity and furious wit about marriage, motherhood and friendship, illuminating these familiar landscapes with lightning flashes of revelation."
—Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation
"After Birth is a fast-talking, opinionated, moody, funny, and slightly desperate account of the attempt to recover from having a baby. It is a romp through dangerous waters, in which passages of hilarity are shadowed by the dark nights of earliest motherhood, those months so tremulous with both new love and the despairing loss of one's identity—to read it is an absorbing, entertaining, and thought-provoking experience."
—Lydia Davis, author of Can't and Won't
"Bukowski wrote that he preferred people who scream when they burn, and nobody burns, or screams, like Elisa Albert—a fiercely intelligent, dark and funny woman unafraid of her own anger."
—Shalom Auslander, author of Hope: A Tragedy
"Elisa Albert in a nutshell: funny, self-aware, and genuinely fearless that she might be a lunatic, or a genius, or both."
—Emily Gould, The Awl
A widely acclaimed young writer's fierce new novel, in which childbirth and new motherhood are as high-stakes a crucible as any combat zone.
"Captures our time with bracing propulsive energy and brilliant honesty . . . Albert is virtuosic." -- Washington Post
Ari is isolated with a one-year-old son in a decayed upstate New York town. Then Mina appears, pregnant and alone. Suddenly there is the possibility of connection, and soon the two are comrades-in-arms, navigating the hostile terrain of new motherhood together. Acclaimed for its insight, outrageous humor, and power to spark fierce debate, After Birth is a daring and transformative novel about friendship, history, and the body.
"Vicious, hilarious, and above all real." --New York Times Book Review
"Boils with dark humor and brutal honesty." --People
"Funny as hell . . . Enlightening, sharply moving, and true." --Star Tribune
"A smartly acerbic exploration." --O, The Oprah Magazine
"Heartfelt . . . Necessary and powerful." --Independent
"Edgy . . . Like Lorrie Moore . . . cracked open." --Los Angeles Review of Books
"One of the most exciting books of the year . . . Provocative." --Buzzfeed
"Sharp as a fresh-cut diamond." --Flavorwire
About the Author
ELISA ALBERT, author of The Book of Dahlia and a collection of short stories, has written for NPR, Tin House, Commentary, Salon, and the Rumpus. She grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in upstate New York with her family.