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To read Rivka Galchen is to enter a wonderland where the bizarre and the mundane march in unlikely lockstep.

—Michael Lindgren, The Washington Post

Rivka Galchen

Rivka Galchen's 2008 first novel Atmospheric Disturbances and her 2014 story collection American Innovations were both New York Times Best Books of the Year. She has received many awards as well as an MD from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Galchen lives in New York City.


Little Labors

Nonfiction by Rivka Galchen


Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book—a key inspiration for Rivka Galchen’s new book—contains a list of “Things That Make One Nervous.” And wouldn’t the blessed event top almost anyone’s list?

Little Labors is a slanted, enchanted literary miscellany. Varying in length from just a sentence or paragraph to a several-page story or essay, Galchen’s puzzle pieces assemble into a shining, unpredictable, mordant picture of the ordinary-extraordinary nature of babies and literature. Anecdotal or analytic, each part opens up an odd and tender world of wonder. The 47 Ronin; the black magic of maternal love; babies morphing from pumas to chickens; the quasi-repellent concept of “women writers”; origami-ophilia in Oklahoma as a gateway drug to a lifelong obsession with Japan; discussions of favorite passages from the Heian masterpieces Genji and The Pillow Book; the frightening prevalence of orange as today’s new chic color for baby gifts; Frankenstein as a sort of baby; babies gold mines; babies as tiny Godzillas …

Little Labors–atomized and exploratory, conceptually byzantine and freshly forthright–delights.