Mothercare. A Memoir

Author: Tillman, Lynne

Publication Date:

August 2022



Original language and publisher

English | Soft Skull

Territories Handled

World excl. English North America

Territories Sold

English (UK & BC excl Can) (Peninsula)
China (Yilin Press)
South Korea (Dolbegae)



Mothercare. A Memoir

Author: Tillman, Lynne


“A touching, heartfelt guide for the care of an ailing parent in need of compassion and lifesaving medical assistance. In an era when modern medicine is fast paced, patient advocacy is essential, not only so that our loved ones receive the best possible care, but also that it respects their dignity.” —Dr. Vijay Vad, author of Back Rx and sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York

“An unsparing and heart-wrenching exploration of serious illness and its impact on everyone it touches.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Discerning. . . Tillman’s frank insights on love and loss are cannily original.” Publishers Weekly

“Lynne Tillman’s terrifying, fascinating memoir shows how it is, the intimacy of mother-daughter connection at the ending, close-up, yet playing out within the larger world of race and class. Mothercare is really really real!” —Nell Painter, author of Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over

Mothercare is a close examination of the American healthcare system, the constraints of family, and the complexities of care. Tillman’s writing is devastating—unsentimental, honest, full of sharp intelligence, and irrepressible wit. Mothercare resonates.” —Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies

“We know Lynne Tillman as a brilliant stylist in the first person, but she has never written a work as intimate and frank as Mothercare. This philosophical memoir deepens my admiration for her inimitable sentences, drawing me confidently and calmly into contemplation of two universal, terrifying, awe-inspiring, ever-intertwined themes: death and moms.” —Lucy Ives, author of Cosmogony

“Only Lynne Tillman can write a clear-eyed account examining a topic that is anything but clearly comprehensible. This is a book about caring for the ill and dying, loss, regret, resentment, and contradictory emotions; all the mysteries of human attachments through their various transformations. Mothercare is written with lucid, beautifully crafted prose. As in her novels, Tillman makes the ineffable a plain fact through her craft, by defying genres and presenting us with a text that’s impossible to put down despite its difficult subject. This book is a gift that may or may not help caregivers, the grieving, and the dying—but it will certainly do no harm as it honors the fundamental commitment of an ideal physician. And that is a great achievement. The book is a pleasure to read, painful and funny but never maudlin. And that is an even greater achievement.” —Gregg Bordowitz, author of Some Styles of Masculinity

“Both a treatise on the “grueling obligation” of caregiving and an ineffectual American healthcare system, as well as the frank recounting of loving and living with a difficult parent, Mothercare feels particularly apt for an era in which caregivers are more burnt than out than ever (or, perhaps more accurately, an era in which we’re finally paying attention).”  —Eliza Smith, Literary Hub

From the brilliantly original novelist and cultural critic Lynne Tillman comes Mothercare, an honest and beautifully written account of a sudden, drastically changed relationship to one’s mother, and of the time and labor spent navigating the American healthcare system.

When a mother’s unusual health condition, normal pressure hydrocephalus, renders her entirely dependent on you, your sisters, caregivers, and companions, the unthinkable becomes daily life. In Mothercare, Tillman describes doing what seems impossible: handling her mother as if she were a child and coping with a longtime ambivalence toward her.

In Tillman’s celebrated style and as a “rich noticer of strange things” (Colm Tóibín), she describes, without flinching, the unexpected, heartbreaking, and anxious eleven years of caring for a sick parent.

Mothercare, is both a cautionary tale and sympathetic guidance for anyone who suddenly becomes a caregiver. This story may be helpful, informative, consoling, or upsetting, but it never fails to underscore how impossible it is to get the job done completely right.