Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


A Novel

Lisa Gornick




Trade Paperback

Myra is a Manhattan psychotherapist. But when she learns that her phobia-addled son is moving back to New York with his wife and child, she responds with a mother's heart rather than the prudence that has guided her career. Myra invites her son's family to share her brownstone and hires Eva, from a Jewish community deep in the Amazon, as a nanny and housekeeper. Eva seems like the perfect addition, but as she reveals more of herself, the felicitous arrangement turns ominous. Slowly and inexorably, the relationship becomes too close, too entangled—and, ultimately, terrifyingly destructive.

With Tinderbox, the psychoanalyst and novelist Lisa Gornick gives us a gripping story of the tragedy of good intentions—a haunting mystery of hidden traumas and a searingly perceptive exploration of power and love.



Myra cradles the phone to her ear as she gives the yes that she knows even now, this April Saturday morning, should be a no. Her yes is not even a yes, since Adam, her fragile second child—acrophobic,...


Praise for Tinderbox

“This vivid portrait of a family unravelling is perfect for book clubs.” —People, Four-Star Review

Tinderbox is a brilliant gem of a novel: a page-turner that reminds us that, while we are never without the weight of our past, we also choose how we carry it. Lisa Gornick mines her characters' hidden histories and ignites our interest from page one. Absolutely riveting.” —Christina Baker Kline, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

Tinderbox will certainly be compared to Jonathan Franzen's acclaimed The Corrections. And it should be, since Gornick creates a world of characters every bit as complex and flawed--and as real--as Franzen's subjects.” —Jewish Book World

“I clung to every page of Tinderbox....Gornick has translated the very real and tender chaos of family into a novel that's expertly constructed and engaging.” —Bustle

“I loved this novel--it is deeply intelligent and shot through with suspense....An extraordinary book, written for adults.” —Joan Silber, PEN/Faulkner finalist for Fools and National Book Award finalist for Ideas of Heaven

“Lisa Gornick is both a writer and a psychoanalyst. Her gifts for seeing beyond the surface, for appreciating and depicting the consequences of unrealized love and psychic pain, for observing with unblinking honesty the dynamics of family life and human foibles, come together in this novel, which starts off like a brush fire and then engulfs and burns with fury.” —Lloyd I. Sederer, The Huffington Post

Tinderbox is the story of a family undergoing seismic changes brought on by a stranger who unwittingly forces her hosts to face themselves. A masterly and dramatic group portrait, drawn with intelligence, precision, and deep feeling.” —Daniel Menaker, author of The Treatment

“A fiery, tender novel about the smoldering secrets that can destroy a family. Lisa Gornick is a psychoanalyst as well as a novelist, and the training serves her well. She exposes her characters with a skilled therapist's blend of gentility and intensity. She knows just when to hang back--and when to light the match.” —Lisa Zeidner, author of Love Bomb and Layover

“I was gripped from the first line of Lisa Gornick's ingenious novel to the last. Using a polished prose to scratch hard and deep through the surface of a pristine upper-middle-class Upper West Side family's life, Gornick's incisive narrative explores the creepy underbelly of privilege and self-satisfaction.” —Jenny McPhee, author of A Man of No Moon

“What a smart, compassionate novel Lisa Gornick has written! In the first line of Tinderbox, Myra says yes when she should say no, allowing her maternal instincts to trump her wisdom as a therapist. That tension--the tug of war between the advice we give others and the life we actually live--pulls the reader through this wonderful book of family turmoil. Getting to know these characters truly, madly, deeply is as gut-wrenching and joyful as life itself.” —Mary Kay Zuravleff, author of The Bowl is Already Broken

A Private Sorcery is a deep, powerful, exciting story that casts a spell on the reader from the opening pages. I was riveted and entranced--and something even more than that: thrilled to be in the presence of an important and authentic new voice.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Slow Motion, on A Private Sorcery

“Every now and then a new voice comes along that makes sense of our deep need for stories and their tellers. Lisa Gornick is one of those voices--she manages to match a compelling storyline with a language that is simultaneously intimate, intelligent, and crafted. It's certainly not easy to make it seem so easy. A Private Sorcery is a wonderfully honest book, deeply felt, with characters carved from the true stuff of what we are. A first-rate novel, all the more surprising since it is Gornick's debut.” —Colum McCann, author of This Side of Brightness, on A Private Sorcery

“An astonishingly good novel and completely compelling, A Private Sorcery is superbly written and sparkles with intelligence and subtlety. I can't remember a first novel in the last ten years that has impressed me as much as this. The characters are complex and fascinating. The evocation of place and time is vivid and convincing. This seems to me to be a novel for grown-ups.” —Charles Palliser, author of Quincunx and The Unburied, on A Private Sorcery

In the Press

Providing a fresh spin on news, entertainment, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, books, and any and all subjects that concern women. Bustle is an online community delivering original content that's smart, shareable, and, most importantly, fun. - Bustle

I can no longer recall how I stumbled upon Sándor Márai's exquisite short novel Embers which is set on a single day when… - FSG Book Keeping on Medium

You absolutely should know whether your prospective therapist is well-trained and respected in the community. What you don't need is the Internet fishing trip that yields the price of your prospective therapist's home or her marriage announcement. - Huffington Post

he Sun is an independent, ad-free monthly magazine that for more than thirty years has used words and photographs to invoke the splendor and heartache of being human. The personal essays, short stories, interviews, poetry, and photographs that appear in its pages explore the challenges we face and the moments when we rise to meet those challenges. Writing from The Sun has won the Pushcart Prize, been published in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, and been broadcast on National Public Rad - The Sun

These two stories, actually metaphors, are woven into and illustrative of the imagery of Lisa Gornick's powerful novel. Fire, folly, and fortitude all play their part as a family is torn asunder, and it turns out they needed to be. - Huffington Post

Lisa Gornick © Sigrid EstradaDear Mary Kay, After I finished Man Alive!, I felt as though I had spent a week living wit… - FSG Book Keeping on Medium

It's a big job, bigger than most parents anticipate, this thinking about our nannies, their life circumstances and psychic and health states, the reverberations between us, our communications spoken and unspoken. - Huffington Post

Certain books are so strongly associated with the places and times we read them, we cannot imagine having been in that s… - FSG Book Keeping on Medium

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Lisa Gornick

Lisa Gornick is the author of the novels Tinderbox (Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Picador) and A Private Sorcery (Algonquin). Her stories and essays have appeared widely, including in AGNI, Prairie Schooner, and The Sun, and have received many awards, including "Distinguished Story" in the anthology The Best American Short Stories. She holds a B.A. from Princeton, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Yale, and is a graduate of the writing program at N.Y.U. and the psychoanalytic training program at Columbia.

Lisa Gornick

© Sigrid Estrada

From the Publisher


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