01/04/2013 (press release: skolkin) // Manhattan, New York, USA // Marian Brown
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Set in the turbulent 1970s when Patty Hearst became Tanya the Revolutionary, Leora Skolkin-Smith’s Hystera is a timeless story of madness, yearning, and identity. After a fatal accident takes her father away, Lillian Weill blames herself for the family tragedy. Tripping through failed love affairs with men, and doomed friendships, all Lilly wants is to be sheltered from reality. She retreats from the outside world into a world of delusion and the private terrors of a New York City Psychiatric Hospital. Unreachable behind her thick wall of fears, the world of hospital corridors and strangers become a vessel of faith. She is a foreigner there until her fellow patients release her from her isolation with the power of human intimacy. How do we know who we really are? How do we find our true selves under the heavy burden of family and our pasts? In an unpredictable portrait of mental illness Hystera penetrates to the pulsing heart of the questions.
PRAISE for HYSTERA:
“Hystera is a haunting, mesmerizing story of madness, longing and identity, set against one of the most fascinating times in NYC history. Skolkin-Smith’s alchemy is to inhabit her characters even as she crafts a riveting story that is nothing short of brilliant.” Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of “Pictures of You”, Reviewer of PEOPLE Magazine, The New York Times, and Boston Globe.
“Inside a psychiatric ward in the 1970’s, Leora Skolkin-Smith’s HYSTERA takes you on a ride through the wilderness of a young woman’s emotional trauma and breakdown, and seizes upon the intricacies of mental health, our phobias, and fears around it. Brilliantly envisioned, this story of passion and familial dysfunction, bears witness to an exquisite reknitting of a young woman’s soul, told in language that is brave, startling, an ultimately tender and wise.”
–Jessica Keener, author of Night Swim
“Leora Skolkin-Smith’s novel Hystera is an unforgettable story of mental illness. Set in the New York City of the 1970s, the book is told in precise language that sears the characters into your consciousness.”
“Leora Skolkin-Smith’s new novel, “Hystera,” provides a very vivid sense of being in the head of someone having a psychotic breakdown, and is a powerfully useful reference book for dealing with the mental-health system. It also pungently evokes the gritty New York of the ’70s.”
—Robert Whitcomb, reviewer “The Providence Journal”
From RAGMAG, An International Magazine of Culture, Art, Entertainment,
Reviewer, Amal Chaaban
“Someone once said that literature is either weighty and wise or interesting and captivating. Skolkin-Smith puts this to rest in HYSTERA. Lilly is a student in the 1970’s at Sarah Lawrence College who experiences her life slip away from her in short mental breaks. One night she swallows too many pills mixed with alcohol and then checks herself into the psychiatric ward at the state hospital. What follows there is a collage of sights, feelings and sounds as Lilly attempts to both fit in with the patient yet keep some part of herself essentially separate. Lilly parents are both alive and the mother figures very heavily in her illness though it is only hinted at until Lilly is unable to avoid her at random meetings. As Lilly journeys (sometimes very unwillingly) back to a healthy state, she alternates between fear of herself, fear of her body that strangely border on paranoid regarding others’ intention towards her and a stubborn belief that she deserves punishment for a tragic occurrence many years prior. This book is a tragically beautiful reminder of how fragile mental health really is.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
HYSTERA, Leora Skolkin-Smith’s second novel, has was published by Lou Aronica, Fiction Studio Books. It was also a Finalist in both the National Indie Excellence Awards and The International Book Awards. Excerpts from HYSTERA were first published by Persea Books, and recently appeared in The Hamilton Stone Review. Recent publications include a piece from THE FRAGILE MISTRESS, which appeared in Guernica Magazine in 2010.
Leora Skolkin-Smith’s first published novel, EDGES was edited and published by the late Grace Paley for Ms. Paley’s own imprint at Glad Day books. EDGES was nominated for the 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award by Grace Paley. Recently, her novels were selected by Princeton University as part of a series on women writers whose background is from the Middle East and whose work is personal, reflecting the current diaspora. The Princeton Series in funded by The National Endowment of the Humanities and called: “The Fertile Crescent Moon Series.”
THE FRAGILE MISTRESS, a feature film based on EDGES, is currently in pre-production, scheduled to begin shooting on location in Jerusalem, Jordan, and New York, produced by Triboro Pictures, Michael Gunther, producer. http://www.thefragilemistress.com
Articles by Leora Skolkin-Smith have appeared in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, The National Book Critic’s Circle, “Critical Mass”, “Readysteadybook.com”, and The Quarterly Review