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    Distributor: Random House, Inc. Availability: On Sale Date:Dec 29, 2020 Carton Quantity:24 $24.95 CAD
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Natural Killer
A Memoir
By (author): Harriet Alida Lye
9780771049231 Paperback, Trade English General Trade BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs Dec 29, 2020
$24.95 CAD
Active 5.43 x 7.93 x 0.87 in | 0.6 lb 288 pages McClelland & Stewart
“I need people to know that I exist, that their experiment worked, that by some combination of luck and science, I’m alive.”

In this harrowing and intimate memoir, Harriet Alida Lye explores how, at just fifteen years old, she was diagnosed with a form of leukemia called Natural Killer, named “the rarest and worst malignancy.” The average survival time of patients with this diagnosis is fifty-eight days. There are no known survivors. There were no known survivors.

Fifteen years after Harriet’s diagnosis, she became pregnant, despite having been told that her chemotherapy treatment would likely make conception impossible. To be a mother is to make a death, as death is bound up in life. She knew her body had the ability to create death. She never trusted, was told to not even imagine, that it also had the power, that magical banality, to create life.

Weaving in source material from the year she spent in hospital, written by both of her parents and her teenage self, this personal reflection is told through a seamless blend of narrative, snapshots, journal entries, and blog updates posted for friends and family.

With probing lyricism and searing honesty, Natural Killer explores what it’s like to live with a life-threatening illness and survive it; what it means for a body to turn against itself, to self-destruct from within; and what it takes to regain trust in a body that has committed the ultimate betrayal.

AUDIENCE: For readers of genre-defying memoirs like Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering, Ariel Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply, and Rachel Cusk’s A Life’s Work.

RELEVANT THEMES: This memoir weaves together two strands: illness and motherhood. These strands, as only Harriet can tell them, will deeply move anyone who’s experienced either. This is also a coming-of-age story and it could appeal to parents and caregivers.

DEEPLY PERSONAL: Told through intimate narrative, snapshots of family life, and raw observations about treament and hospitalization. Harriet regularly shares aspects of her writing and personal life on Twitter. She is also adept at speaking to her experience of illness: she is involved with many local and national cancer charities.

IMPRESSIVE DEBUT: Lye’s critically acclaimed debut novel, The Honey Farm, was published in 2018 in Canada (Nimbus), the US (Liveright), and Australia (Penguin Random House). Publishers Weekly described her writing as “achingly lyrical.”

FUTURE BOOKS: Like Rachel Cusk, Olivia Laing, and Heidi Julavits, Harriet Alida Lye has the talent and ability to write both acclaimed fiction and deeply instrospective nonfiction. We see her as a writer with a bright career ahead.

HARRIET ALIDA LYE’s acclaimed debut novel, The Honey Farm, was published in Canada, the US, and Australia. She was the founder and editor of Her Royal Majesty, a literary arts magazine that ran for six years. Her work has appeared in VICE, Hazlitt, The Happy Reader, Catapult, The Guardian, and the National Post. She studied Philosophy and English at the University of King’s College in Halifax and lived in Paris for the better part of eight years. She now lives in Toronto.

Author Residence: Toronto, ON

Author Hometown: Richmond Hill, ON

Marketing: Paid social advertising



Publicity: pitch for reviews in major dailies

pitch for interviews in books media including CBC The Next Chapter, The Quill & Quire, and The Globe and Mail

events in Toronto and other parts of Ontario

pitch literary festivals in Canada



Author Website: www.harrietalida.com

Author Social Media: @harrietalida

Advance praise for Harriet Alida Lye and Natural Killer:

 “Never have I read a more moving book on the fragile filament of life, the bond between people who love one another and struggle to find the words to express that love. The words are here, so wise and specific and drawn from the inward part. Harriet Alida Lye has no truck with fantasy or faith or folderol. She is a star witness to the bloom of life that surrounds death, and her work demands access to our unsentimental hearts.” —Michael Winter, author of Into the Blizzard

Natural Killer is less a cancer memoir (though it is that) as a wise and heart-affirming reflection on the ties that bind us to one another: on motherhood but also daughterhood, control and surrender, and the body’s limit experiences. Harriet Alida Lye brilliantly weaves her materials together, from firsthand memories to medical records, scenes of the body ravaged and scenes of the body creating, in a truly original work of autobiography.” —Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse

“Harriet Alida Lye takes the enormous cruelty of indiscriminate disease and creates something truly beautiful and deeply moving. A book about the terror of death that is brimming with the warmth and vibrancy of life.” —Stacey May Fowles, author of Baseball Life Advice

“What a rare thing to read a book that makes you pause in reflection on nearly every page. Natural Killer is a remarkable story of an inspiring family that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Alida Lye’s writing, intimate and subtle, asks profound questions about life, death, hope and trust that made me grateful to have spent time in her beautiful mind. This work, crafted so thoughtfully, will stay with me for a very long time.” —Ashley Audrain, author of The Push

“In this generous book, Harriet Alida Lye opens up her life—and her body—to us. She guides us through the peaks and nadirs of human experience with her sensuous prose, her keen eye for the beauty that exists even in the terrible moments, and, above all, her boundless, fierce love.” —Anna Maxymiw, author of Dirty Work

“Everything about this book is exceptional: the writing, the potency of its images, the portrayal of two lives linked across time, the writer herself. I cannot recommend this enough.” —Nafkote Tamirat, author of The Parking Lot Attendant

“Gorgeous, brutal, a meteorite of a book. Natural Killer holds the sheer force and radical beauty of the miracle it depicts. Harriet Alida Lye was supposed to die at fifteen and did not. She then went on to become a mother. Looking into the dark centre of love, death and new life, Lye writes with the wisdom and measure of a young Didion. To read this memoir is to be changed by it.” —Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker and Stunt

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