This is a fantastic fiction debut by an Israeli-American author that deserves our attention. All My Mother's Lovers features a queer protagonist grieving over the sudden death of her mother and coming to terms with family dysfunction and romantic relationships. It’s a wild ride, and every inch of each character is nuanced and real. The structure is interesting, too, especially with the mother's point of view woven in. The book is both sexy and sad and I appreciate that duality.— Sam
One of . . .
Electric Literature’s "Most Anticipated Debuts of Early 2020" • O Magazine’s "31 LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020" • Publisher Weekly’s "Spring 2020 Literary Fiction Announcements" • Buzzfeed's "Most Highly Anticipated Books Of 2020" • The Millions's "Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2020 Book Preview" • The Rumpus's "What to Read When 2020 is Just Around the Corner" • LGBTQ Reads's "2020 LGBTQAP Adult Fiction Preview: January-June" • Lit Hub’s "Most Anticipated Books of 2020" • BookRiot’s "Must-Read Debut Novels of 2020" • Bitch’s "27 Novels Feminists Should Read in 2020" • Harper’s Bazaar's "14 LGBTQ+ Books to Look For in 2020" • NewNowNext’s "11 Queer Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Spring" • Cosmopolitan's "12 Books You'll Be Dying to Read This Summer" • Salon’s "The Best and Boldest New Must-Read Books for May" • Lambda Literary’s “Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books of May 2020” • The Rumpus "What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Mothers"
"A queer tour-de-force . . . Compelling and astonishing."–Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things
Unfolding over the course of nine days, and written with enormous heart, All My Mother's Lovers is a meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties, grief, and generational divides, as well as a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity.
After Maggie Krause’s mother dies suddenly in a car crash, Maggie finds five sealed envelopes with her will, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of. Maggie and her mother, Iris, weren’t close, especially since Maggie came out, but she never thought they would run out of time to figure each other out. Now in her late twenties, Maggie is finally in something resembling a serious relationship, wondering if some of whatever shaped her parents’ decades-long love story might exist after all.
Overwhelmed by her grief and frustrated with her family, Maggie decides to escape the shiva and hand-deliver her mother’s letters. The ensuing road trip takes her over miles of California highways, through strangers’ recollections of a second, hidden life (that seems almost impossible to reconcile with the Iris she knew), and a journey through her own fears as she navigates her new relationship. As she fills in the details of Iris’s story, Maggie must confront the possibility that almost everything she knew about her mother — her marriage, her lukewarm relationship to Judaism, her disapproval of her daughter’s queerness — is more meaningful than she ever allowed herself to imagine.
About the Author
Ilana Masad is a fiction writer, essayist, and book critic whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Paris Review, NPR, BuzzFeed, Catapult, StoryQuarterly, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, as well as several others. All My Mother's Lovers is Masad's debut novel.
“There are many things for which All My Mother’s Lovers should be praised for, not least of which is its cast of dynamic, complicated queer characters whose relationship problems have nothing to do with how they identify. . . . All My Mother’s Lovers is engaging, and confident, and often wry.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
"A debut that explores sexuality, family trauma, and grief — after our main character's mother dies in a car crash and leaves mysterious letters to five different men — but it's all packed in a smart, funny package."—Entertainment Weekly
"This probing, beautiful debut novel by Ilana Masad is an intimate meditation on grief, identity, love, and inheritance. . . . [A] daughter's journey to realizing her mother was also a woman, and a tender tribute to the power of forgiveness, understanding, and hope."—Refinery 29
"With her debut novel, Ilana Masad presents a sharp meditation on the ways our parents shape us."—Marie Claire
"Ilana Masad's debut is a queer tour de force. A tender look at love, relationships, motherhood, and how we oftentimes hurt the people we love most with our silence. Compelling and astonishing, All My Mother's Lovers is a novel with family dynamics at its heart. This book goes hard and does not disappoint. Masad is a writer on the rise."—Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things
"This ambitious, deft, compassionate debut novel finds eternal truths in a very contemporary story: that even those we care for most remain mysteries to us, that our judgments of others' lives are always inadequate, that love demands heroism. Ilana Masad is an exciting talent."—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You and Cleanness
"Masad has written a melancholy and memorable reminder of how little we often know about the people who raise us, not just as caretakers, but as human beings with hopes and heartaches."–USA Today
"Masad is deft and incisive about the sometimes-fraught nature of mother-daughter relationships, around which loaded subtext can seem to twist and twine like Christmas lights. And she affectingly plumbs the mind-bending hugeness that is losing a parent."—The Washington Post
“All My Mother's Lovers is a wholly unique exploration of identity, sexuality, and the all-consuming power of love. Masad is a masterful storyteller who offers complex, dynamic characters that continue to surprise us until the very end.”—Associated Press
"The novel offers readers a nuanced, fully realized protagonist struggling to come to terms with death, her transition to adulthood, and the leap of faith required to let people in."—Lambda Literary
"[An] ambitious, cinematic debut novel . . . All My Mother's Lovers is an intimate, complex family portrait that follows the messy life of one queer woman who comes to understand that all relationships are untidy; that’s part of what makes them memorable.”—AV Club
"In addition to writing fiction and nonfiction, Ilana Masad is one of the best contemporary book critics out there, and her debut novel is evidence that all that reading has done her good. (Brandon Taylor, author of the brand-new Real Life, called her a genius in a recent interview, so that tells you something. . . . Brimming with enveloping writing, this is another don't-miss.)"—Electric Literature
"This remarkable portrait of a daughter's opaque relationship with her mother reflects the strangeness and beauty of coming to see one's parent fully as a human being."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Masad skillfully balances bitterness and tenderness throughout the narrative. . . . In some ways, every generation needs to reinvent the wheel in order to feel independent and capable. But, whether communicating with our queer elders or with elders we would never consider part of the queer community, it is important to understand that the things we hold most important are human, and though the words we use to describe experiences may change, there is nevertheless continuity of human experience from one generation to the next. All My Mother's Lovers is a beautiful celebration of this continuity, and the value of communication across generations."—Jewish Book Council
“Masad’s impressive novel delves into varieties of that strange magic, love, and of its expansive, life-shaping possibilities. All My Mother's Lovers is a debut of rare and vital generosity.”—R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
"Ilana Masad's All My Mother's Lovers is a stunning excavation of the profound destabilization of grief, the secrets that twist like vines around the root system of a family, and the terror and grace of learning to be vulnerable before others. Maggie and Iris, the daughter and mother that sit at this novel's heart, are both indelible, with a bond that not even death can demolish. A giant-hearted and sharply funny debut."—Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
"Ilana Masad has crafted a brilliant novel about understanding and forgiveness. . . . All My Mother's Lovers is a powerful debut that signals a new voice in fiction who can interweave multiple threads through a single protagonist."—Bitch
"Masad's book is a powerful look at family secrets and how they shape us."—Volume 1 Brooklyn
"All My Mother's Lovers masterfully explores how complex grief and trauma are."—HelloGiggles
"A tender portrait of a fraught relationship between a mother and her lesbian daughter. . . . Masad deftly navigates a bevy of difficult topics, and the result is a beautiful novel on grief, Jewish families, motherhood, queer identities, and more."—Alma
"Ilana Masad delivers a strong debut focused on the complexities of relationships, queerness, and gender."—Ms.
"Ilana Masad's debut novel held my attention as early as its title, All My Mother's Lovers, which renders a wit and promise of complication that makes for exciting reading. . . . The narrative unfolds over a funeral and shiva and will tackle identity from many angles: the familial, the sexual, the repressed, the hopeful."—Lit Hub, "Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2020"
"An exciting fiction debut from a discerning and insightful book critic."—BuzzFeed
"A large hearted marvel."—O, The Oprah Magazine, "31 LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020"
"This book is on literally every anticipated book list for 2020 and for good reason."—Paper Mag
"[A] tender debut."—Real Simple
“Masad’s largest triumph: superb and cohesive character development. . . . All My Mother's Lovers explores the distance we feel between ourselves and others, even those we love most, and how the gap in those perspectives can be an entry point for grief, empathy, and forgiveness.”–Chicago Review of Books
“All My Mother's Lovers is a raw, emotional book about acceptance and the kind of complicated, messy love that sometimes takes years to comprehend.”
—Shelf Awareness, starred review
"This is a book that takes an unflinching look at sexuality and its role in our lives: how it builds bridges, burns them, and changes how others view us and how we relate to others. For some, it even changes the trajectory of their lives."—Lilith Magazine
"A story of good but difficult characters and the openhearted people who love them, All My Mother's Lovers is a compassionate and insightful work."—BookPage
"It’s a remarkable debut and the kind of book you want to hug tight when it ends."—Elle.com
"A tremendous debut."—Book Riot