There are three forms of strike I'd recommend: a housework strike, a labour strike, and a sex strike. I can't wait for the first two.
The first collection of essays from Lucy Ellmann, Things Are Against Us is everything you might expect from such a fiery writer—which is to say, entirely unexpected.
Bold, angry, despairing and very, very funny, these essays cover everything from matriarchy to environmental catastrophe to Little House on the Prairie to Agatha Christie. Ellmann calls for a moratorium on air travel, rails against bras, and pleads for sanity in a world that—well, a world that spent four years in the company of Donald Trump, that 'tremendously sick, terrible, nasty, lowly, truly pathetic, reckless, sad, weak, lazy, incompetent, third-rate, clueless, not smart, dumb as a rock, all talk, wacko, zero-chance lying liar'.
Things Are Against Us is electric. It's vital. These are essays bursting with energy. Reading them feels like sticking your hand in the mains socket. Lucy Ellmann is the writer we need to guide us through these crazy times.
Lucy Ellmann's first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1988. Her latest, Ducks, Newburyport, was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction and the Saltire Prize, and won the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize and the 2020 James Tait Black Prize. She has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Independent, Irish Times and other publications. American by birth, she now lives in Scotland.
'Breathlessly brilliant...An extraordinary achievement of wit and imagination...This isn't just one of the outstanding books of 2019, it's one of the outstanding books of the century, so far.' Irish Times
'Lunatic and splenetic and distinctive... I begin to suspect [Lucy Ellmann] might be some sort of genius.' Telegraph
'A looping, joyously parenthetical excursion through the mind of an American housewife and the anxieties and absurdities of our historical moment.' James Bradley, Australian
'Very funny, very readable and one of those novels that expand the possibilities of what a novel can be and do.' Mark Haddon
'[Readers] will recognise Ellmann's dauntless cataloguing of desires, her refusal to be anything but self-directed...It's a book about a mother's love, but also about loss and grief, and anxiety dreams about Donald Trump, and despair about mass shootings...It is also a catalogue of life's many injuries and mishaps...and of the simple joys and consolations of memory and imagination. [A] triumph.' Guardian
'A remarkable portrait of a woman in contemporary America contemplating her own life and society's storm clouds...Brilliant.' Publishers Weekly (starred review)
'This book has its face pressed up against the pane of the present; its form mimics the way our minds move now...Let the novel open like an oubliette under your feet. It feels dense at first, a bit like drowning, without a period or paragraph break in sight. But a rhythm asserts itself and a structure, musical and associative....The capaciousness of the book allows Ellmann to stretch and tell the story of one family on a canvas that stretches back to the bloody days of Western expansion, but its real value feels deeper — it demands the very attentiveness, the care, that it enshrines.' New York Times