Cover image for Motherhood [large print] / by Sheila Heti.
Motherhood [large print] / by Sheila Heti.
Large print edition.
Publication Information:
Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, a Cengage Company, 2018.

Physical Description:
381 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.
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.


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A daring, funny, and poignant novel about the desire and duty to procreate, by one of our most brilliant and original writers

Motherhood treats one of the most consequential decisions of early adulthood--whether or not to have children--with the intelligence, wit and originality that have won Sheila Heti international acclaim, and which led her previous work, How Should a Person Be? , to be called "one of the most talked-about books of the year" (TIME magazine ).

Having reached an age when most of her peers are asking themselves when they will become mothers, Heti's narrator considers, with the same urgency, whether she will do so at all. Over the course of several years, under the influence of her partner, body, family, friends, mysticism and chance, she struggles to make a moral and meaningful choice.

In a compellingly direct mode that straddles the forms of the novel and the essay, Motherhood raises radical and essential questions about womanhood, parenthood, and how--and for whom--to live.

Author Notes

Sheila Heti was born in Toronto, Canada in 1976. She studied playwriting at the National Theatre School and philosophy at the University of Toronto.

Heti runs Trampoline Hall, a monthly lecture series, and writes regularly about the visual arts. Her title The Middle Stories was Shortlisted for the 2001 Upper Canada Writer's Craft Award. Heti was voted Best Emerging Writer in NOW magazine's Reader's Poll in 2001. In September 2010, Heti's book How Should a Person Be?, was published by Henry Holt in the United States in July 2012. It was chosen by The New York Times as one of the 100 Best Books of 2012 and by The New Yorker as one of the best books of the year.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The subject of the new novel from Heti (How Should a Person Be?) is neither birth nor child-rearing, but the question of whether to want a child, which the unnamed narrator calls "the greatest secret I keep from myself." To find the answer, she practices techniques cribbed from the I Ching, consults a psychic and Tarot cards, contemplates her mother's experiences as a woman, counts her periods, and considers freezing her eggs. In the meantime, she and her partner, Miles, are going through a rough patch, only partly due to her indecision, which is exacerbated by visits with her friends (all of whom seem to have newborn babies), recurrent and bittersweet fantasies of raising a family, and her knowledge that she is reaching the end of the window when maternity is possible. A book of sex (the real, unsensational kind), mood swings, and deep feminist thought, this volume is essentially a chronicle of vacillating ruminations on this big question. Although readers shouldn't go in expecting clean-cut epiphanies, this lively, exhilaratingly smart, and deliberately, appropriately frustrating affair asks difficult questions about women's responsibilities and desires, and society's expectations. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

LAST STORIES, by William Trevor. (Viking, $26.) The great Irish writer, who died in 2016 at the age of 88, captured turning points in individual lives with powerful slyness. This seemingly quiet but ultimately volcanic collection is his final gift to us, and it is filled with plots sprung from human feeling. FASCISM: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright with Bill Woodward. (Harper/HarperCollins, $27.99.) Albright draws on her long experience in government service and as an educator to warn about a new rise of fascism around the world. She is hopeful that this threat can be overcome, but only, she says, if we recognize history's lessons and never take democracy for granted. MOTHERHOOD, by Sheila Heti. (Holt, $27.) The narrator of Heti's provocative new novel, a childless writer in her late 30s - like Heti herself - is preoccupied with a single question: whether to have a child. Her dilemma prompts her to consult friends, psychics, her conscience and a version of the I Ching. INTO THE RAGING SEA: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of the El Faro, by Rachel Slade. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $27.99.) Pieced together from texts, emails and black box recordings, this is a tense, moment-by-moment account of the 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin. SEE WHAT CAN BE DONE: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary, by Lorrie Moore. (Knopf, $29.95.) The first essay collection by this gifted fiction writer features incisive pieces about topics like Alice Munro, John Cheever, "The Wire," Dawn Powell and Don DeLillo, all of it subject to Moore's usual loving attention and quirky perspective. CAN DEMOCRACY SURVIVE GLOBAL CAPITALISM? by Robert Kuttner. (Norton, $27.95.) Kuttner returns to the argument he's been making with increasing alarm for the past three decades: Countries need to have autonomy to control their economies, otherwise they'll be crushed by the whims of the free market. THE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS: A Story Of War and What Comes After, by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil. (Crown, $26.) As a 6-year-old refugee of the Rwandan genocide, Wamariya crisscrossed Africa with her sister, enduring poverty and violence. She recounts her path to America lyrically and analytically. AND NOW WE HAVE EVERYTHING: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready, by Meaghan O'Connell. (Little, Brown, $26.) This honest, neurotic, searingly funny memoir of pregnancy and childbirth is a welcome antidote in the panicked-expectant-mothers canon - though its gripping narrative will appeal to nonparents, too. WHITE HOUSES, by Amy Bloom. (Random House, $27.) A psychologically astute novel that celebrates the intimate relationship of Eleanor Roosevelt and the A.P. reporter Lorena Hickok. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web:



My mother cried for forty days and forty nights. As long as I have known her, I have known her to cry. I used to think that I would grow up to be a different sort of woman, that I would not cry, and that I would solve the problem of her crying. She could never tell me what was wrong except to say, I ' m tired . Could it be that she was always tired? I wondered, when I was little, Doesn't she know she's unhappy? I thought the worst thing in the world would be to be unhappy, but not to know it. As I grew older, I compulsively checked myself for signs that I was unhappy. Then I grew unhappy, too. I grew filled up with tears.      All through my childhood, I felt I had done something wrong. I searched my every gesture, my words, the way I sat upon a chair. What was I doing to make her cry? A child thinks she is the cause of even the stars in the sky, so of course my mother's crying was all about me. Why had I been born to cause her pain? Since I had caused it, I wanted to take it away. But I was too little. I didn't even know how to spell my own name. Knowing so little, how could I have understood a single thing about her suffering? I still don't understand. No child, through her own will, can pull a mother out of her suffering, and as an adult, I have been very busy. I have been busy writing. My mother often says, You are free. Perhaps I am. I can do what I like. So I will stop her from crying. Once I am finished writing this book, neither one of us will ever cry again.      This will be a book to prevent future tears--to prevent me and my mother from crying. It can be called a success if, after reading it, my mother stops crying for good. I know it's not the job of a child to stop her mother from crying, but I'm not a child anymore. I'm a writer. The change I have undergone, from child to writer, gives me powers--I mean that magical powers are not far from my hand. If I am a good enough writer, perhaps I can stop her from crying. Perhaps I can figure out why she is crying, and why I cry, too, and I can heal us both with my words.   ~ Is attention soul? If I pay attention to my mother's sorrow, does that give it soul? If I pay attention to her unhappiness--if I put it into words, transform it, and make it into something new-- can I be like the alchemists, turning lead into gold? If I sell this book, I will get back gold in return. That's a kind of alchemy. The philosophers wanted to turn dark matter into gold, and I want to turn my mother's  sadness into gold. When the gold comes in, I will go to my mother's doorstep, and I will hand itto her and say: Here is your sadness, turned into gold. Excerpted from Motherhood by Sheila Heti All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.