Author: Sheila Heti
Publisher: Picador (2019)
In Motherhood, Sheila Heti asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother, treating the most consequential decision of early adulthood with the candor, originality, and humor that have won Heti international acclaim and made How Should A Person Be? required reading for a generation.
In her late thirties, when her friends are asking when they will become mothers, the narrator of Heti’s intimate and urgent novel considers whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting among the influence of her peers, partner, and her duties to her forbearers, she struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking guidance from philosophy, her body, mysticism, and chance, she discovers her answer much closer to home.
Motherhood is a courageous, keenly felt, and starkly original novel that will surely spark lively conversations about womanhood, parenthood, and about how―and for whom―to live.
“This inquiry into the modern woman’s moral, social and psychological relationship to procreation is an illumination, a provocation, and a response―finally―to the new norms of femininity, formulated from the deepest reaches of female intellectual authority. It is unlike anything else I’ve read. Sheila Heti has broken new ground, both in her maturity as an artist and in the possibilities of the female discourse itself.”
“I read this novel more quickly and eagerly than any I’ve read in ages. Sheila Heti’s simple, elegant sentences invariably give pleasure; her thinking is incisive and wholly original as she grapples with the kind of unhappiness that many of us, myself included, prefer to distract ourselves from rather than look at squarely. Reading Motherhood forced me to become a little more honest with myself.”
“Reading this beautiful novel, I felt I was watching a brilliant mind invent new tools for thinking. Sheila Heti wrings revelation from the act of asking, again and again, in ever more challenging and innovative ways, impossible questions of existence. Motherhood is a thrilling, very funny, and almost unbearably moving book.”
“The book Sheila Heti’s Motherhood reminds me of the most is Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, except that the agonizing decision is whether to create a child, and not whether to destroy one―but it’s that good, and that crazy-making. I’ve never seen anyone write about the relationship between childlessness, writing, and mother’s sadnesses the way Sheila Heti does. I know Motherhood is going to mean a lot to many different people―fully as much so as if it was a human that Sheila gave birth to―though in a different and in fact incommensurate way. That’s just one of many paradoxes that are not shied away from in this courageous, necessary, visionary book.”