“Kate Zambreno has invented a new form. It is a kind of absolute present, real life captured in closeup.“ —Annie Ernaux, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
From “one of our most formally ambitious writers” (Esquire), a moving account of caretaking in a time of uncertainty and loss
“Kate Zambreno’s writing is mysterious, unclassifiable, and yet intimate and familiar,” Jenny Zhang has written. Now, Zambreno offers her most profound and affecting work yet: a candid chronicle of life as a mother of two young daughters in a moment of profound uncertainty about public health, climate change, and the future we can expect for our children. Moving through the seasons, returning often to parks and green spaces, Zambreno captures the isolation and exhaustion of being home with a baby and a small child, but also small and transcendent moments of beauty and joy. Inspired by writers and artists ranging from Natalia Ginzburg to Joseph Cornell, Yūko Tsushima to Bernadette Mayer, Etel Adnan to David Wojnarowicz, The Light Room represents an impassioned appreciation of community and the commons, and an ecstatic engagement with the living world.
How will our memories, and our children’s, be affected by this time of profound disconnection? What does it mean to bring new life, and new work, into this moment of precarity and crisis? In The Light Room, Kate Zambreno offers a vision of how to live in ways that move away from disenchantment, and toward light and possibility.
About the Author
Kate Zambreno is the author of many acclaimed books including Drifts, To Write As If Already Dead, and Heroines. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, The White Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, she teaches in the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University and is the Strachan Donnelley Chair in Environmental Writing at Sarah Lawrence College.
Advance praise for The Light Room:
“With The Light Room, Zambreno — one of our most prolific and curious minds — chronicles what it’s like to be a mother amidst the various crises of this chaotic moment in history.” —Vulture
“Despite the unfathomable distractions we're all facing, Zambreno writes with a sense of hope that will especially resonate with anyone who's soldiered through pandemic-era parenting.” —Harper's Bazaar
“Kate Zambreno has performed a miracle, capturing real, lived time from within the exhaustion of pandemic-era parenthood. The Light Room reminded me of that fundamental magic of writing—that the details of another person's life, so precisely and honestly rendered, can instantly loosen the edges of your own life and make you feel less alone.” —Jenny Odell, New York Times bestselling author of How to Do Nothing
“The Light Room is a marvelous and marvel-filled book. Zambreno’s mind is like a magic filter discovering secrets when turned on any sort of item—a tiny toy, a loom, an artist, a mortality. A wonderful book, a companion for all the varieties of days.” —Rivka Galchen, author of Little Labors “When Kate Zambreno writes she must use a special microscope, with which she studies the dust in the sunlight, and the clutter of motherhood, and the thinnest fibers of exhaustion and hope. The Light Room is a miracle, a wooden box with a golden clasp filled with the specimens of all our most precious, disappearing days.” —Sabrina Orah Mark, author of Happily and Wild Milk
“A gorgeous document of the tender and precise place where art and mothering necessarily meet. Natural and urban spaces float and glow under Kate Zambreno’s observant eye. Each leaf, each book, is a love letter activated by bohemian saints: the artists and writers who pass through her small rooms and far-reaching mind.” —Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark and The Seas
“The Light Room is both a gift and a beacon." —Sinéad Gleeson, author of Constellations