New Fiction: The Small Backs of Children – Lidia Yuknavitch

Lidia Yuknavitch is out there, up to something. Her previous books, The Chronology of Water and Dora: A Headcase were praised by authors as diverse as Chuck Palahniuk, David Shields, Andrei Codrescu, and Cheryl Strayed. Rebecca Solnit (author of Men Explain Things to Me and other smart, cool books) said of Yuknavitch:

All my youth I gloried in the wild, exulting, rollercoaster prose style and questing narratives of writers like Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and Jack Kerouac, but cringed at the misogyny; couldn’t we have the former without the latter? It turns out we can, because: Lidia Yuknavitch. Buckle your seat belts; it’s gonna be a wild feminist ride.”

This new novel hangs a heady meditation on war, sex, love and art on the framework of propulsive, subversive, suspenseful plot. It’s not for the faint hearted and it’s not for folks who insist on a traditional narrative. But if you want to read an original American voice, this will wake you up.

Reviews at on sale are already scheduled for the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Vanity Fair.

“If you want a novel that’s going to swallow you alive this summer, turn to Lidia Yuknavitch, whose The Backs of Small Children is the kind of book that goes straight for your heart and your mind. Fearlessly, Yuknavitch takes you to war-torn Eastern Europe to ponder ideas of love, loss, and identity you’ll keep thinking about well after the brief novel is done. This one’s important.

Gorgeous, scary, and a breathtaking rush to read, this book is less a meditation than a provocation on the power and dangers of art.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“In this daring novel, Yuknavitch takes a provocative look at…a group of emotionally scarred artists who want to save one of their own. Written in the voices of characters without first names—photographer, writer, poet, performance artist, playwright, filmmaker, and painter—the novel begins in modern Eastern Europe…where a photojournalist captures an award-winning shot: a young girl running from her exploding home….Meanwhile, an American writer who is friends with the photographer, is hospitalized with severe depression. The writer’s best friend, a poet, believes she can help the writer; she enters the war zone to bring the orphaned girl to the United States. Yuknavitch’s novel is disturbing and challenging, but undoubtedly leaves its mark.”
Publishers Weekly

“Yuknavitch made an impression with her transgressive memoir The Chronology of Water, and her new novel features similar plot points and themes….Yuknavitch is a gifted writer whose dizzying passages are often as compelling as they are grotesque. But it’s not a pretty story, and the novel’s affected musings on the nature of art, gratuitous sexual excesses, and casual violence may overpower the grace of its words for some readers. Patricia Highsmith by way of Kathy Acker in a highbrow thriller that says as much about its writer as its story.
Kirkus Reviews

“[An example] of thrilling storytelling with universal appeal.”
Entertainment Weekly

The Small Backs of Children (9780062383242) by Lidia Yuknavitch. 7/7/15 on sale. $24.99 hardcover.

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