“Thrilling . . . Like all the best literature, Artifact leaves you feeling as if you've been through a major life experience and you're stronger for it.” - Sandra Newman, author of The Heavens
A sweeping debut novel about love, sex, motherhood, and ambition that follows a gifted and subversive scientist's struggle to reach beyond cultural constraints for the life she wants.
From practicing psychiatrist and critically acclaimed author of Scary Old Sex (“the kind of bliss that lifts right off the page” -Dwight Garner, NYT), Artifact is the dazzling, half-century-spanning story of biologist Lottie Kristin. Born in Michigan in the early 1940s to a taciturn mother and embittered father, Lottie is independent from the start, fascinated with the mysteries of nature and the human body. By age sixteen, she and her sweetheart, cheerful high school sports hero Charlie Hart, have been through a devastatingly traumatic pregnancy. When an injury ends Charlie's football career four years later, the two move to Texas hoping for a fresh start.
There, torn between the vitality of the antiwar movement and her family's traditional values, Lottie discovers the joys of motherhood, and reconnects with her interest in biology and experimentation, taking a job as a lab technician. While Charlie's depression pervades their home, Lottie's instinct is toward life; though every step is a struggle, she opts for single motherhood, graduate school, a career, and eventually, a marriage that makes space for all that she is.
Bravely and wisely written, Artifact is an intimate and propulsive portrait of a whole woman, a celebration of her refusal to be defined by others' imaginations, and a meditation on the glorious chaos of biological life.