—Anya Kamenetz, NPR
This essay collection from fiction and science writer Rivka Galchen is not your mother’s motherhood lit. Brief, gemlike reflections on adjusting to life under the rule of a baby daughter (called ‘the puma’) are interwoven with literary and historical references. It’s a book that will ring both familiar and strange.
A highly literary and stylized exploration of motherhood, Little Labors focuses perhaps most on its mysteries. But one thing is clear (and a point Galchen makes with great clarity): “little” and “minor” are often not synonymous.
—Gavin Tomson, Maisonneuve
As Galchen adeptly demonstrates, the pram in the hall is no longer the sombre enemy of good art—ignoring it is.
—Los Angeles Review of Books
Galchen is, for my money, one of the most gifted stylists writing in American English today. Her funniness is otherworldly; she is the reigning champion of litotes, or understatement for effect. Preternaturally deft, Galchen can do almost anything with next to nothing.
—The Paris Review
Galchen writes like a wide-eyed oracle, in a state of knowing calm, and often plays the observing diarist, noting how the presence of the puma/chicken elicits fresh and baffling reactions from the people she sees daily: her family, a disliked neighbor, the corner drunk. In these short essays, anecdotes, and aphorisms, Galchen views motherhood in equal parts euphoria and dread, and her forays into literature, mostly Japanese, look to unravel the myth of the woman writer, but more so of the mother writer.
The book is an endearing compilation of social criticism, variously contentious, commonplace, funny and incisive.
—Willa Paskin, Slate
Galchen is an elegant and careful writer.
—Naomi Skwarna, National Post
A book of extraordinary savour, with nearly every sentence calling for an emphatic underline.
An engaging mind offers reflections on being a mother, being a writer, and having a baby.
—Christopher Bollen, Interview Magazine
Galchen does something more profound than tackle motherhood; she utterly reinvents and reanimates the subject.
—Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions
Galchen is to fiction what Ferran Adrià is to gastronomy, serving up the whimsical, the startling, and the revelatory in the guise of the delightfully familiar.
—James Wood, The New Yorker
Galchen has a knack for taking a thread and fraying it, so that a sentence never quite ends up where you expect.
A brilliant young writer.