From an author whose writing has been praised as “blistering” (The New Yorker), “virtuosic” (The Washington Post), and “brilliant” (The New York Times) comes a provocative and entertaining novel about a woman who desperately wants a child but struggles to accept the use of assisted reproductive technology—a hilarious and ferocious send-up of feminism, fame, art, commerce, and autonomy.
On the eve of her fourth album, singer-songwriter Aviva Rosner is plagued by infertility. The twist: as much as Aviva wants a child, she is wary of technological conception, and has poured her ambivalence into her music. As the album makes its way in the world, the shock of the response from fans and critics is at first exciting—and then invasive and strange. Aviva never wanted to be famous, or did she? Meanwhile, her evolving obsession with another iconic musician, gone too soon, might just help her make sense of things.
Told over the course of nine menstrual cycles, Human Blues is a bold, brainy, darkly funny, utterly original interrogation of our cultural obsession with childbearing. It’s also the story of one fearless woman at the crossroads, ruthlessly questioning what she wants and what she’s willing—or not willing—to do to get it.
About the Author
Elisa Albert is the author of After Birth, The Book of Dahlia, How This Night Is Different, and editor of the anthology Freud’s Blind Spot. Her stories and essays have appeared in Time, The Guardian, The New York Times, n+1, Bennington Review, Tin House, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She lives in upstate New York.
"One of our most fearless chroniclers of the trials of womanhood... Human Blues follows a musician over the course of nine menstrual cycles, captured with a rollicking rhythm that would make Carrie Brownstein proud." —Chicago Review of Books
"Darkly funny [and] tongue-in-cheek... Human Blues revolves around Aviva’s physical body and fertility, but Albert quietly shines in laying bare topics crucial to many women—societal expectations, the push-pull between ambition and parenthood and the question of what it means to truly want to be a mother.” —Hadassah
“Human Blues is filled with personality as Albert merges questions of fame and fertility into a thought-provoking exploration of agency and expression… Albert’s prose [has] distinct rhythm: It’s fast and sweet, with enough attitude to put Sleater-Kinney or even Lizzo to shame… [A] life-affirming howl into a wild world.” —BookPage
"[A] bighearted and riotously funny performance from Albert... The depth of feeling, range of ideas, and spiky provocations amount to a Bellow-worthy wave of blistering prose. By the end, it pummels the reader into submission.” —Publishers Weekly *starred review*
"In Elisa Albert's engrossing new novel, Aviva [Rosner’s] struggles with fertility, her questions about parenthood, her ambivalence about fame, and her obsession with a gone-too-soon rock star combine to make a heartfelt, funny, brutal story about the things we choose to be and the things we end up becoming.” —Town & Country
"Thrilling." —Lit Hub
“Provocative, fast-paced and darkly funny... [Human Blues] an energizing read for anyone who's ever been told, ‘Oh, you're just on your period’” —Good Housekeeping
"Darkly funny." —Cosmopolitan
"Human Blues is an intimate examination of a woman’s struggle with infertility... Written in an immediate, casual style, readers will feel like they are a friend of Rosner hearing her tumultuous journey firsthand." —Chronogram Magazine
Praise for Elisa Albert
“Shockingly moving.” —The Boston Globe
“Compelling.” —The Guardian
“Without a shred of sentimentality.” —People
“Virtuosic.” —The Washington Post
“Blistering.” —The New Yorker
“Obscene.” —The New York Times
“[A] revelation.'' —Jenny Offill
“Thought-provoking.” —Lydia Davis
“Gutsy.” —Sam Lipsyte
“The real thing.” —Erica Jong
“Bukowski with a vagina and a motherfucker of a hangover.” —Shalom Auslander
“Exhilaratingly honest.” —Karen Russell
“Wildly entertaining.” —Jayne Anne Phillips