Mar 9, 2023
‘mesmeric, stunningly beautiful’ Milk: On Motherhood and Madness published today by Picador
One of The Irish Times 'Best Books to Look Forward to in 2023'
Alice Kinsella was in her mid-twenties when she became pregnant with her first child, newly engaged and about to embark on a life in an unfamiliar town on the west coast of Ireland. Into this warm cocoon, this big, empty house, would arrive a little baby. And soon Alice's world began to expand and contract in ways she could never have imagined.
With her body struggling to recover, darker intrusions ran through the days and nights of new motherhood. For the first time, she considered the experiences of her mother, her grandmother, and the generations of women who came before them. She asked herself questions. How does this country treat its mothers? What does it mean to be forever tethered? Forever in love?
Set against the backdrop of a seemingly changed Ireland, in Milk Alice draws for us her own map of motherhood, a crucial reflection spanning nine months of pregnancy and the first nine months of her child's life. Intimate, warm, startlingly vivid and gentle, this is at once a delicate reflection on a moment of gigantic change in body and mind and a powerful, often painful confrontation of the politics of a country so deeply unsure about its women.
Praise for Milk: On Motherhood and Madness
“Milk is a raw, unvarnished journey down the mothering rabbit hole…With its lyrical power, intimacy and political top-notes, Milk is already being compared to works by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Kerri ní Dochartaigh and Emilie Pine”
The Irish Independent
“This is a book for the ages. It truly is mesmeric, stunningly beautiful, open and intense, revelatory and generous. I love the short bursts, and the sublime way that Alice ranges through life, mental health, art, society, and all the vast complexities, the dangers, the 'pull and sway' of motherhood. I knew what an incredible writer Alice was before I started but this surpasses my highest expectations”
Donal Ryan, author of Strange Flowers
“A radiant, meditative, truly powerful and beautiful book”
Joseph O'Connor, author of Star of the Sea
“Wielding a panoply of shattered literary forms, Alice Kinsella expertly depicts the gradual disintegration of a woman into the motherbaby dyad. MILK is an important addition to the growing canon of work about the physical, political, and philosophical destabilization of motherhood”
Sarah Manguso, author of Very Cold People
“Milk is a brilliantly original examination of motherhood, a book like no other on the subject. With a poet's eye and in gorgeous prose it brings us close up to the anxieties, frustrations, joys and world-expanding drama of bringing new life into an uncertain world”
Mike McCormack, author of Solar Bones
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more consumed by a book before. I devoured it. It took hold of me, curled right up in beside my bones. A book of women and water , babies and art - the herstory of Ireland - but mostly this is a book about the raw, riotous, brutally beautiful act of being alive. Kinsella manages something rare here; weaving her own story so exquisitely with that of both the human and non human world she is part of. Reading her words on mothering and creating - on care and hope- was an incredibly healing thing indeed”
Kerri ní Dochartaigh, author of Thin Places
“Milk is mesmerizing, comforting, angering, delicate, tough, perceptive, funny and clever. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Every page. Every word. Every moment. Every mother, every son, every father, every daughter, every Irish person, every human needs to read this glorious book”
Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, author of All The Money in The World
“Milk is beautifully written - by a poet, clearly, but with no indulgence or digression into ornament, only strangeness and a kind of stylistic purity, like a chime”
Niamh Campbell, author of This Happy
“Alice Kinsella traverses the terrors of the mind, the responsibilities of love, and the dark concealments of history with a powerful skill. On motherhood, the body and social taboo, Milk is a bright, captivating reckoning”
Seán Hewitt, author of All Down Darkness Wide
“Milk is a lyrical meditation on the impossible beauty and impossible strangeness of motherhood. With immersive and exquisite prose, Kinsella leads us through the Mother World and, while her words often evoke the sublime, Kinsella does not recoil from examining its underbelly of misogyny – still present in spite of supposed progress. Riveting and vital”
Alice talks about her new memoir, Milk: On Motherhood and Madness, which records her struggles with mental health after a traumatic birth