"When I was younger, thinking about whether I wanted to have children, I always came back to this formula: If no one had told me anything about the world, I would have invented boyfriends. I would have invented sex, friendships, art. I would not have invented child-rearing. I would have had to invent all these other things to fulfil real longings in me, but if no one had ever told me that a person could create a person, and raise them into a citizen, it wouldn't have occurred to me as something to do. In fact, it would have sounded like a task to very much avoid."
In her new novel, Sheila Heti asks what is gained, and what is lost, when a woman becomes a mother. The result is a novel that treats the most universal and consequential decision of early adulthood—whether to have children—with the candour, originality and wit that have won Ms. Heti international acclaim, and that made How Should A PersonBe? required reading for a generation of young women.
In her late thirties, at an age when most of her friends are asking themselves when they will become mothers, Ms. Heti's narrator considers, with the same urgency, the question of whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting between the influence of her peers, her partner, and her duties to her forbearers, the narrator struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking answers from philosophy, theology, mysticism and chance (in the form of the three coins of the I Ching), she finally discovers the answer much closer to home.
The result is a courageous, keenly felt and deeply funny novel that will surely spark a cultural and political conversation about womanhood, about parenthood, and about how—and for whom—to live.
Sheila Heti is the author of seven books, including the critically acclaimed How Should a Person Be? and the New York Times bestseller Women in Clothes (edited with Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton). She is the former interviews editor at The Believer magazine, and has been published in The New Yorker, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, n+1, The London Review of Books, and more. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages.
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