Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is about a family coming to terms with the unthinkable: the death of a mother. Playful and funny, profound and heart-breaking, this is a daring debut about motherhood, anatomy, language and the darkness within us all.
Longlisted for the Booker Prize
Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize
Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year
Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize
Longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize
'Original, memorable, shimmering' - Sarah Moss
'Restlessly inventive . . . delicate and persuasive' - The Guardian
Something gleeful and malevolent is moving in Lia’s body, learning her life from the inside out. A shape-shifter. A disaster tourist. It’s travelling down the banks of her canals. It’s spreading.
When a sudden diagnosis upends Lia’s world, the boundaries between her past and her present begin to collapse. Deeply buried secrets stir awake. As the voice prowling in Lia takes hold of her story, and the landscape around becomes indistinguishable from the one within, Lia and her family are faced with some of the hardest questions of all: how can we move on from the events that have shaped us, when our bodies harbour everything? And what does it mean to die with grace, when you’re simply not ready to let go?
Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is a story of coming-of-age at the end of a life. Utterly heart-breaking yet darkly funny, Maddie Mortimer’s astonishing debut is a symphonic journey through one woman’s body: a wild and lyrical celebration of desire, forgiveness, and the darkness within us all.
Remarkable . . . A tearjerker, but it's hopeful too . . . Brave, inventive and mature * Sunday Times *
Here is a book to dance and sing about. An extraordinary, kaleidoscopic dive into language -- Daisy Johnson, Man Booker-shortlisted author of Everything, Under
Compelling and uplifting . . . undeniably impressive: Mortimer is clearly a talent to watch * Telegraph *
An original and memorable novel written in shimmering prose. The characters stayed with me long after I’d finished reading -- Sarah Moss, Women's Prize-shortlisted author of Ghost Wall and Summerwater
Lyrical and beautiful, this is a novel unlike anything else * Stylist *
Both expansive and intimate, Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is an intricate portrait of a life hurtling towards the inevitable. An extraordinary debut. -- Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Mercies
Striking . . . formally inventive . . . Sadness is not allowed to crowd out wit and joy * New Yorker *
A beautiful novel about death that feels completely alive, pulsing with tenderness and wit -- Megan Hunter, author of The End We Start From and The Harpy
An extraordinary debut, unlike anything I've read. Wildly inventive, poetic and poignant, this is a rare gem of a novel that took my imagination to new places and touched my heart. -- Emma Stonex, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lamplighters
Technically dazzling . . . Mortimer has the same felicity with language as Jon McGregor, combining an incantatory prose style with imagery so acute it almost burns* Daily Mail *
Ambitious, sprawling . . . brings to mind Eimear McBride's A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing . . . restlessly inventive . . . delicate and persuasive . . . sharply funny * Guardian *
It may move between different styles and moods, but underpinning it all is the book’s bursting energy and, in the face of death, its verve for life * i newspaper *
This is a touching, eye-opening perspective on life and illness like you've never read before * Good Housekeeping *
Using word placement, font, and shape to create images on the page, Mortimer deepens the reader’s engagement with the story and characters . . . Through breathtaking attention to detail, Mortimer crafts a stunning novel that touches on the expanses one life can contain * Booklist (starred) *
Maddie Mortimer's dazzling debut novel about a woman with breast cancer is a life-affirming read - all the more so because of its proximity to death . . . While there are many books that explore these themes, it is rare to find one that does so in such an immersive and harrowing way * Straits Times *
- Short-listed for Desmond Elliott Prize 2022 (UK)
- Short-listed for The Goldsmiths Prize 2022 (UK)
- Long-listed for The Booker Prize 2022 (UK)
Dimensions: 216mm x 135mm x 36mm