cover image Nightbitch


Rachel Yoder. Doubleday, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-54681-2

Yoder’s guttural and luminous debut blends absurdism, humor, and myth to lay bare the feral, violent realities underlying a new mother’s existence. An unnamed stay-at-home mother lives through a monotonous routine with her two-year-old son, while her kind yet mostly uninterested husband leaves for weeklong work trips each Monday. Things begin to change when the mother notices a patch of hair growing on the back of her neck; spots her new, curiously sharp canines in the mirror; and begins to feel a tail emerging from her lower back. Bewildered by her metamorphosis, the mother searches online for explanations with terms such as “looks like I was punched hard in both eyes.” Horrified by the dizzying results, she treks to the library, a zone that promises the comfort of knowledge but is colonized by other mothers (“She actively resisted making friends in a mom context and objected to the sort of clapping and cooing that went on in the library room... the happiness and positivity that would also be mandatory,” Yoder writes). She checks out a book titled A Field Guide to Magical Women, which validates her experience and encourages her to embrace the freedom of her new animal nature. Bursting with fury, loneliness, and vulgarity, Yoder’s narrative revels in its deconstruction of the social script women and mothers are taught to follow, painstakingly reading between the lines to expose the cruel and downright ludicrous ways in which women are denied their personhood. An electric work by an ingenious new voice, this is one to devour. Agent: Monika Woods, Triangle House. (July)