A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother: Essays



In A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother, Anna Prushinskaya explores the deep life shifts of pregnancy, birth and motherhood in the United States, a world away from the author’s Soviet homeland. Drawing from inspirations as various as midwife Ina May Gaskin, writer and activist Alice Walker, filmmaker Sophia Kruz and frontierswoman Caroline Henderson, Prushinskaya captures the inherent togetherness of motherhood alongside its accompanying estrangement. She plumbs the deeper waters of compassion, memory and identity, as well as the humorous streams of motherhood as they run up against the daily realities of work and the ever-present eye of social media. How will I return to my life? Prushinskaya asks, and answers by returning us to our own ordinary, extraordinary lives a little softer, a little wiser, and a little less certain of unascertainable things.

Advanced Praise for A Woman Is a Woman Until She Is a Mother

“Anna Prushinskaya’s A Woman is a Woman Until She is a Mother is a frank, courageous, and beautiful meditation on the strange alchemy of migrating from one identity to another.”
Helen Phillips, author of Some Possible Solutions and The Beautiful Bureaucrat

“Anna Prushinskaya’s essays are maps, are mirrors, are the magical objects lost and found by every wayward traveler in a faraway/familiar land. Every woman’s experience of motherhood is unique, and yet I traced my own footsteps on the paths this marvelous writer laid before me. A lovely book – the kind you find yourself pushing into friends’ hands and bundling up into care packages.”
Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World and Other Stories

“Motherhood is an encounter, a shadow in mirrors, a beast lying low in the grass in the field,’ writes Anna Prushinskaya as she grapples with the strangeness of pregnancy and birth. Russian-born, she swoops across the frontiers of country and motherhood as she contemplates the nature of language, pain, compassion, and the power of a woman’s story. Meditative, curious and intriguing, these essays help us consider whether ‘the things that come with life are worth it.”
Toni Nealie, author of Miles Between Me

“You are lucky to be holding this book, because in ten or twenty years, you will be able to say, “Anna Prushinskaya? I have the original edition of her first book,” which will impress all your friends because by then Prushinskaya will have won all the awards and prizes, and will have taken her well-deserved place in the canon of early 21st Century literature. But more than that, you are lucky to be holding this book because Prushinskaya is one of the few writers out there who possesses a wholly unique vision: her writing is as concise as it is poetic, her outlook as tender as it is analytical. This is a beautiful book.”
Juliet Escoria, author of Witch Hunt and Black Cloud


Best of 2017: Non-Fiction Books

"It’s exquisitely honest. It demands to be read all in one sitting, and I highly recommend you purchase a copy for yourself and all the women in your life."
Michigan Quarterly Review

"These essays made me want to sit down and write my own essay in a single night. They make me want to write and not look back, even or especially because the perspective of a single evening is unworthy of trust."
LA Review of Books

"What’s different about this new crop of books about motherhood is their unerring seriousness, their ambition, the way they demand that the experience of motherhood in all its viscera be taken seriously as literature."
The Paris Review

"The Motherhood Books I Needed To Read Were The Ones I Avoided Or Ignored — Until After I Became A Mom"

"Prushinskaya’s essays are an intriguing compilation of a woman’s flight through child bearing, told with care, pain, and freshness."
The Coil

"... a serene but deeply felt rumination on this complicated passage, and on the many ways it connects us to the past, both our own histories and human history broadly."
Full Stop

"...The focus of the book is, as you might guess, motherhood, but the compiled essays are about much more than that: the act of creating something, the act of defining ourselves in the world, the act of reshaping an identity."
Electric Literature