September: Valerie, or The Faculty of Dreams
Valerie, or The Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg (SWEDEN)
Translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner
A fever dream of a novel―strangely funny, entirely unconventional―Valerie conjures the life, mind, and art of American firebrand Valerie Solanas. In April 1988, Valerie Solanas―the writer, radical feminist, author of the SCUM Manifesto and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol―was discovered dead at fifty-two in her hotel room, in a grimy corner of San Francisco, alone, penniless, and surrounded by the typed pages of her last writings. In Valerie, a nameless narrator revisits the room where Solanas died, the courtroom where she was tried and convicted of attempting to murder Andy Warhol, the Georgia wastelands where she spent her childhood and was repeatedly raped by her father and beaten by her alcoholic grandfather, and the mental hospitals where she was shut away.
A leading feminist in Sweden and one of the most acclaimed writers in Scandinavia, Sara Stridsberg here blurs the boundaries between history and fiction, self-making and storytelling, madness and art, love and tragedy. Through imagined conversations and monologues, reminiscences and rantings, she reconstructs this most intriguing and enigmatic of women, reaching back in time to amplify her voice and bring her powerful, heartbreaking story into new light.
"Valerie is one of the most genuinely insubordinate books I have read, and one of the most beautiful . . . Stridsberg infuses her protagonist with epic, tragic brilliance . . . her anarchism is humanized, without losing its teeth . . . One finishes this novel feeling taken by Valerie, but, even more, moved by the author’s love for her, the generosity that allows a potentially pathetic figure to become heroic, a guardian spirit."
―Katy Waldman, The New Yorker
“Inventive and stimulating . . . As each new piece of Stridsberg’s portrait of Valerie is added, it alters the big picture, provocatively. The novel is as much about how little one can understand other people as it is about Valerie’s life. Stridsberg entertainingly casts new light on both Solanas and on how society views pop culture.”
Sara Stridsberg is an internationally acclaimed writer and playwright. Her fiction and nonfiction books have been translated into more than twenty languages. A former member of the Swedish Academy, she is a leading feminist and artist in her native Sweden and around the world. Valerie is her first book to be published in the US.