Winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award Reader's Choice
Lidia Yuknavitch revisits the aching wound of her stillborn child in The Small Backs of Children. While fiction, this moving novel reads like nonfiction — it is so personal. Yuknavitch has the rare and almost magical ability to write beautifully about things that are horrific. Gathering together the stories of several characters, each playing a part in an elaborate plot to save their friend, Yuknavitch delivers a gorgeous, heartbreaking tale of friendship, guilt, redemption, and healing. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Fiercely powerful, at times horrific, always gorgeous, Yuknavich's new novel does what she does best — makes you think. About writing, sexuality, brutality, the nature of our obsessions, the projections of our grief, and the strange, contradictory bits of architecture — both chasm and bridge — between reality and art. Recommended By Gigi L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
In a war-torn village in Eastern Europe, an American photographer captures a heart-stopping image: a young girl flying toward the lens, fleeing a fiery explosion that has engulfed her home and family. The image, instantly iconic, garners acclaim and prizes and, in the United States, becomes a subject of obsession for one writer, the photographer's best friend, who has suffered a devastating tragedy of her own.
In a bid to save the writer from a spiraling depression, her filmmaker husband enlists a group of friends including a fearless bisexual poet, an ingenuous performance artist, and the writer's playwright brother and painter ex-husband to rescue the unknown girl and bring her to the United States. And yet, as their plot unfolds, everything we know comes into question: What does the writer really want? Who is controlling the action? And what will happen when these two worlds — East and West, real and virtual — collide?
A fierce, provocative, and deeply affecting novel exploring the often violent borders between war and sex, love and art, The Small Backs of Children is a major step forward from one of our most avidly watched writers.
"This intensely powerful memoir touches depths yet unheard of in contemporary writing. I read it at one sitting and wondered for days after about love, time, and truth. Can't get me any more excited than this." Andrei Codrescu, author of The Poetry Lesson
“Lidia Yuknavitch isn't afraid of anything. We need her sudden cyclonic no-holds-barred wisdom more than ever right now, to hold our feet to the fire, to make us brave in the face of our own impotence, to kick our artistic asses into gear.” Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
“You can make the case that Lidia Yuknavitch is the most compelling writer alive. The Small Backs of Children has moments of séance with writers like Jean Rhys and Clarice Lispector. I felt bewitched, possessed, destroyed, and yet I'd do it again.” Porochista Khakpour
The Small Backs of Children is intelligent yet accessible, provocative in the best ways, complex yet tightly plotted and riveting. The characters are beautifully drawn, and together their story raises important questions — about violence, art, sex, and survival — that are both timely and enduring. And the writing — the writing is sublime. Whitney Otto
“There are a handful of books that have changed the way I move through the world. The Small Backs of Children is one of them. Lidia Yuknavitch writes with sly, subversive, nervy, compassionate madness. She is one of the great American writers.” Chelsea Cain, < i=""> New York Times <> bestselling author
"Yuknavitch moves through narratives and structures like a literary banshee seeking a body. Fast, visceral, The Small Backs of Children is a gunshot meditation on art and violence and I couldn't put it down." Vanessa Veselka, author of Zazen
“All my youth I gloried in the wild, exulting, rollercoaster prose and questing narratives of Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and Jack Kerouac, but cringed at the misogyny; couldn't we have the former without the latter? We can, because: Lidia Yuknavitch. Buckle your seat belts; its gonna be a wild feminist ride.” Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me and The Faraway Nearby
”Yuknavitch is a gifted writer whose dizzying passages are often as compelling as they are grotesque.” Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water and the novel Dora: A Headcase. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, the Iowa Review, Mother Jones, Ms., the Sun, the Rumpus, PANK, Zyzzyva, Fiction International, and other publications. She teaches writing and literature in Portland, Oregon.