Longlisted for the Booker International Prize
Winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize
In April 1988, Valerie Solanas—the writer, radical feminist, author of the SCUM Manifesto and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol—was discovered dead at fifty-two in her hotel room, in a grimy corner of San Francisco, alone, penniless, and surrounded by the typed pages of her last writings.
In Valerie, a nameless narrator revisits the room where Solanas died, the courtroom where she was tried and convicted of attempting to murder Andy Warhol, the Georgia wastelands where she spent her childhood and was repeatedly raped by her father and beaten by her alcoholic grandfather, and the mental hospitals where she was shut away.
A leading feminist in Sweden and one of the most acclaimed writers in Scandinavia, Sara Stridsberg here blurs the boundaries between history and fiction, self-making and storytelling, madness and art, love and tragedy. Through imagined conversations and monologues, reminiscences and rantings, she reconstructs this most intriguing and enigmatic of women, reaching back in time to amplify her voice and bring her powerful, heartbreaking story into new light.
“Valerie is one of the most genuinely insubordinate books I have read, and one of the most beautiful . . . Stridsberg infuses her protagonist with epic, tragic brilliance . . . her anarchism is humanized, without losing its teeth . . . One finishes this novel feeling taken by Valerie, but, even more, moved by the author’s love for her, the generosity that allows a potentially pathetic figure to become heroic, a guardian spirit."—Katy Waldman, The New Yorker
“Stridsberg's language is brilliant; feverish yet clear. The depiction of the milieus of American workers, academics and artists from the 1940s to the 1980s is superb, but at the centre is the tender yet razor-sharp insight into the mind of a limitlessly fascinating individual.”—Deutschland Radio Kultur (Germany)
“At once a hagiography, an exercise in admiration, and a portrait of a marginal America, this passionate novel reveals the fate of the woman who wanted to shoot Andy Warhol.”—Lire (France)
“This is a brilliant re-imagining of the life and times of one of America’s great cultural icons. If Solanas was alive I’m sure she’d be amazed (and perhaps even gratified) to see what poetic feeling her remarkable destiny has aroused.”—Vivian Gornick, author of The Odd Woman and the City
“Sara Stridsberg’s fantasy about the life of Valerie Solanas has attained the status of myth. We can finally read that novel—a cross between Franz Kafka’s Amerika and Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis—in this powerful, poetic translation. Stridsberg conjures up the loneliness and desire of Valerie, our Valerie—shit-stirrer, tormented genius, cast-off misfit—as well as the vertigo, passion, and complexity of a whole life beyond and through the sensationalized headlines, the caricature. Stridsberg’s intensity and love in writing Valerie’s life is something of its own manifesto.”—Kate Zambreno, author of Heroines
“In Valerie, Sara Stridsberg has given us a wild ride through the haunted house of an infamous woman's memory, experience, and embodiment. A love-letter to the deep insanity of peak twentieth-century America, and testament to a life lived in its margins.”—Elisa Albert, author of After Birth
“Inventive and stimulating . . . As each new piece of Stridsberg’s portrait of Valerie is added, it alters the big picture, provocatively. The novel is as much about how little one can understand other people as it is about Valerie’s life. Stridsberg entertainingly casts new light on both Solanas and on how society views pop culture.”—Publishers Weekly
NEW YORK MAGAZINE, APRIL 25, 1991
The day Dorothy is interviewed by New York magazine over a bad telephone line the sky above Ventor is the same pink as a sleeping tablet or old vomit. No one ever comes to fix the lines...