My Work (Paperback)
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From the acclaimed author of The Employees, a radical, funny, and mercilessly honest novel about motherhood.
After giving birth, Anna is utterly lost. She and her family move to the unfamiliar, snowy city of Stockholm. Anxiety threatens to completely engulf Anna, who obsessively devours online news and compulsively orders clothes she can’t afford. To avoid sinking deeper into her depression, she forces herself to read and write.
My Work is a novel about the unique and fundamental experience of giving birth, mixing different literary forms—fiction, essay, poetry, memoir, and letters—to explore the relationship between motherhood, work, individuality, and literature.“Olga Ravn writes dazzlingly about the work of motherhood and the work of writing. Reading Ravn’s book, you run through the whole gamut of human emotion, as though you too were a new mother: tears, laughter, anger, fear, pain, frustration. This is powerful writing that’s hard to put down.”—Politiken
Sophia Hersi Smith and Jennifer Russell are translators living in Copenhagen. Together, they have translated fiction and poetry by Danish writers such as Tove Ditlevsen, Marianne Larsen, and Rakel Haslund-Gjerrild.
— Justine Jordan - The Guardian
Beautiful, sinister, gripping.
— Mark Haddon
Everything I’m looking for in a novel. I was obsessed from the first page to the last. A strange, beautiful, deeply intelligent and provocative investigation into humanity.
— Max Porter
Olga Ravn writes dazzlingly about the work of motherhood and the work of writing. Reading Ravn’s book, you run through the whole gamut of human emotion, as though you too were a new mother: tears, laughter, anger, fear, pain, frustration. This is powerful writing that’s hard to put down.
This novel from Olga Ravn, this new golden notebook, needs to be read by absolutely anyone who has known the quiet madness and claustrophobic happiness of the interior, especially mothers who also long for a life of literature. But this novel absolutely needs to be read by everyone else as well. Oh Olga Ravn, always inventing new forms, you are a genius, how do you do it?
— Kate Zambreno
An unflinchingly honest reflection of a woman’s experience of her own body as it becomes a body that belongs also to the child. This experience includes beauty and pain, rage and tenderness, fear, suspicion, doubt…A stunning book that speaks aloud thoughts the reader believed had been theirs alone in long nursery hours of the night.
— Kirkus Reviews
Explores childbirth and motherhood by mixing different literary forms—fiction, essay, poetry, memoir, letters—with [Ravn’s] signature experimental flair.
— Sophia Stewart - The Millions
My Work is ferocious, horrific, elegant, insightful, irreverent, and funny. Can a woman still be a person after motherhood? Of course not, Ravn argues, or rather, admits. And in prose, poems, and journal entries, she documents all the absurdity and repulsiveness of growing a creature in your body and then raising it. It is a magnificent and satisfying meditation. One of the most honest and revelatory works of fiction about motherhood I have ever read. Ravn’s writing is ecstatic, philosophical, and addictive.
— Heather O'Neill
On the surface, My Work seems quite different in scope [from The Employees]...but something tells me that interacting with humanoids and sentient space objects have more in common with the first stages of motherhood than one might think.
— Eliza Smith - Lit Hub
Funny and ruthless.
— Shannon Carlin - Time
Ravn has created a truly unique project which is not so much a story as it is an accumulation. It is all the selves, shed and grown, that mothers and birthing people encounter in the slippery aftermath of childbirth; it is the documentation of the mother/art monster problem, a problem that in Ravn’s telling, is as much about addition as it is subtraction.
— Amber Sparks - The Brooklyn Rail
At once irrepressibly lively and painfully elusive. The strength of this book is the way that it dramatises a gap between explanation and lived experience.
— Caleb Klaces - The Guardian
Ravn combines autofiction, criticism, and poetry for a remarkable experimental narrative that probes the dark side of pregnancy, childhood, and new motherhood… An unsettling and visionary fictional enactment of Ravn’s thinking… This brilliant and unflinching work deserves to be a classic.
— Publishers Weekly
My Work is a marvel, and it puts Ravn in rare company amongst contemporary authors. It’s not often that architects of such finely engineered structures point them toward our collective humanity instead of their own mechanics
— J. Howard Rosier - Words Without Borders
In My Work, the line from why have children? to why write? is easy to draw. The two questions become almost the same.
— Ariel Courage - Los Angeles Review of Books
Ravn, a Danish novelist who wrote the National Book Award-longlisted “The Employees,” has internalized the tropes of motherhood, only to reject them with dazzling vehemence.
— Rhonda Feng - The Boston Globe
[My Work] is exactly right, capturing the overwhelming disorientation of early motherhood… It should be read by everyone.
— Thessaly La Force - The New York Times
Through [the novel's] singular collage of prose, poetry, diary, script and even newspaper scrapbook, Ravn traverses a large swath of textual terrain to explore the surface challenges and deeper significance of her work as both writer and mother.
— Nick Hilden - The Washington Post