My third collection of short stories, Bad Mothers, Bad Daughters, has received the Richard Sullivan Prize and comes out from the University of Notre Dame Press in August 2022!
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“Maya Sonenberg’s stories are nimble, witty, and unafraid of delving into the domestic grotesque via the sticky tendrils of the fairy tale. Whale skeletons and scorpions intermingle with gluten-free cake and boom boxes, as she miraculously transforms, again and again, drudgery and heartbreak into something expansive, something exuberant, something that cracks open the mundane to reveal the magic of bloody shoes, lost sisters, the game of solitaire that remakes the world into something so bright you can’t turn away from it, no matter how much it might burn.” –Tina May Hall, author of The Physics of Everyday Objects (winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize) and The Snow Collectors
“The luminous sentences that comprise Maya Sonenberg’s Bad Mothers, Bad Daughters house one surprise after another, never landing where the reader expects linguistically, narratologically, or existentially. They delineate quietly broken lives and unhurried regret in fictions that exist within beautiful clouds of ontological static.” —Lance Olsen, author of Skin Elegies
“Written with humor and spirit, this lively assembly of protean fictions takes us from castle to carwash via an anxious activist, a frazzled painter, a pickle maker, an exemplary whale, and the always illuminating chimpanzee.” —Rikki Ducornet, author of Trafik
“Maya Sonenberg’s witchy and yet touchingly vulnerable characters bring to mind the ‘bad’ mothers and daughters of Lispector, tinted with shades of the Brothers Grimm.“ —Barbara Browning, author of The Gift
“Maya Sonenberg’s contemporary tales are alive with the pulse of the mythic, and her fairy stories brim with all the light and longing of the everyday. These visions of mothers and daughters—broken, breaking, seeking, striving—stick in the mind even as they open the heart. What a powerful, gorgeous collection.” —Jedediah Berry, author of The Manual of Detection
“I loved the stories in Bad Mothers, Bad Daughters with my whole heart, thrilled by their intuitive leaps of imaginative logic, their celebrations of wonder and surprise, and their centering of the unbridled wildness of the mind. Maya Sonenberg has given me exactly the kind of gift I want from a collection of stories: precisely made, gorgeously rendered worlds, each so inventive that it suggests there’s always even more magic waiting beyond its margins. I know I will visit these stories again, and that next time they will transport me even further into wonder.” —Matt Bell, author of Appleseed
“Maya Sonenberg’s Bad Mothers, Bad Daughters is a revelation of fairy tale and form. In gorgeous, clear prose, evoking a playful range of settings—seascape to castle to hospital room to Seattle landmark—Sonenberg irreverently questions the loaded roles of child and parent, of princess and witch, of caretaker and abandoner, all the while piercing the wonders of both our natural world and our labyrinthe hearts.” —Sharma Shields, author of The Cassandra and The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac
I was studying painting at Pratt and in 1982 or 1983 your father, one of my painting instructors, walked in, sat down and read all of us students something you wrote. (You must have been in high school back then.) He was so proud that he just had to read your words to us. And that was it for the day. No painting class. A reading of your work. Very dramatic.
Nancy–how wonderful to hear these memories. I had probably just graduated from college at the time.
Shalom Maya. I just read your story/essay in Conjunctions. How gorgeous that is. Do you ever come to Israel? I organize writing workshops, currently in Tel Aviv. Please let me know if you are planning a trip and if you would like a one-day gig (or maybe two) to help pay for your flight and meet some lovely mature Anglo-Israelis who are writing pretty much in the dark. You can see that I’m not a fake or a con at http://www.writeinisrael.com
What you do in your essay/ prose is what I aspire to do, but if I don’t do it soon, it will be too late.
Thanks so much for your kind words. As I’m sure you know, it’s a special pleasure when a complete stranger reads and likes your writing. I’ve never been to Israel, although I have distant relatives there whom I’ve never met! If I do come, I’ll be sure to get in touch. And if you ever make it to Seattle, please let me know.