Reproduction: A Novel (Hardcover)
A lucid, genre-defying novel that explores the surreality of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood in a country in crisis
A novelist attempts to write a book about Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, a mother and artist whose harrowing pregnancies reveal the cost of human reproduction. Soon, however, the novelist’s own painful experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, as well as her increasing awareness of larger threats from climate change to pandemic, force her to give up on the book and turn instead to writing a contemporary Frankenstein, based on the story of an old friend who mysteriously reappears in her life.
In telling a story that ranges from pregnancy to miscarriage to traumatic birth, from motherhood to the frontiers of reproductive science, Louisa Hall draws powerfully from her own experiences, as well as the stories of two other women: Mary Shelley and Anna, a scientist and would-be parent who is contemplating the possibilities, and morality, of genetic modification.
Both devastating and joyful, elegant and exacting, Reproduction is a powerful reminder of the hazards and the rewards involved in creating new life, and a profoundly feminist exploration of motherhood, female friendship, and artistic ambition.
Louisa Hall grew up in Philadelphia. She is the author of the novels Speak and The Carriage House, and her poems have been published in The New Republic, Southwest Review, and other journals. She is a professor at the University of Iowa, and the Western Writer in Residence at Montana State University.
“What a brilliant novel! I was moved, troubled, enchanted; hardly able to breathe as I read. Hall’s dazzling and original tale has the force of myth, embodying the monstrous challenges of reproducing in our strange new world.” — Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and Natural History
"I read this novel in a single rapturous sitting, torn between the desire to hurtle through its hypnotic prose and the desire to reread every perfect sentence. Reproduction exquisitely captures the lunacy of inhabiting an animal body with a human mind, and somehow manages also to be gross, funny, heartrending, and formally acrobatic. Louisa Hall is a singular talent and I am a devotee." — Melissa Febos, author of Body Work and Girlhood
"A brave and dynamic novel about the creation of life and art--narratively free, compulsively readable, and true-to-life." — Tao Lin, author of Leave Society and Taipei
"Graceful, precise, and perceptive, this is a memorable take on the danger and strangeness of pregnancy." — Publishers Weekly
"This book would be valuable if only for Hall’s phantasmagorical depiction of childbirth and her honesty about how lonely mothering can be. But Hall also situates her story in a world in which gene-editing technology and climate change and global pandemics are real. Like Shelley herself, Hall provides readers a text composed of diverse parts, a text that readers can endlessly take apart and stitch back together to create new ideas. Body horror and philosophy commingle in this strange, enthralling novel." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[A] visceral, chimerical genre bender." — Vanity Fair
"Hall's prose is taut, each word impactful, each short chapter a meditation on what could be...These short chapters build a complex web of interconnectivity, showing the ways that our actions are shaped by the threats of pandemic and climate change as well as the politics, bounds and potential of scientific inquiry." — BookPage
"Devastating and sharp." — Los Angeles Times
"Visceral...[Hall] writes the body with poetic clarity and beauty." — The Guardian