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Chouette
Cover of Chouette
Chouette
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"Claire Oshetsky's novel is a marvel: its language a joy, its imagination dizzying." —Rumaan Alam, New York Times bestselling author of Leave the World Behind

An exhilarating, provocative novel of motherhood in extremis

Tiny is pregnant. Her husband is delighted. "You think this baby is going to be like you, but it's not like you at all," she warns him. "This baby is an owl-baby."

When Chouette is born small and broken-winged, Tiny works around the clock to meet her daughter's needs. Left on her own to care for a child who seems more predatory bird than baby, Tiny vows to raise Chouette to be her authentic self. Even in those times when Chouette's behaviors grow violent and strange, Tiny's loving commitment to her daughter is unwavering. When she discovers that her husband is on an obsessive and increasingly dangerous quest to find a "cure" for their daughter, Tiny must decide whether Chouette should be raised to fit in or to be herself—and learn what it truly means to be a mother.

Arresting, darkly funny, and unsettling, Chouette is a brilliant exploration of ambition, sacrifice, perceptions of ability, and the ferocity of motherly love.

The Chouette audiobook features original music composed by Claire Oshetsky's daughter, Patricia Taxxon.

"Claire Oshetsky's novel is a marvel: its language a joy, its imagination dizzying." —Rumaan Alam, New York Times bestselling author of Leave the World Behind

An exhilarating, provocative novel of motherhood in extremis

Tiny is pregnant. Her husband is delighted. "You think this baby is going to be like you, but it's not like you at all," she warns him. "This baby is an owl-baby."

When Chouette is born small and broken-winged, Tiny works around the clock to meet her daughter's needs. Left on her own to care for a child who seems more predatory bird than baby, Tiny vows to raise Chouette to be her authentic self. Even in those times when Chouette's behaviors grow violent and strange, Tiny's loving commitment to her daughter is unwavering. When she discovers that her husband is on an obsessive and increasingly dangerous quest to find a "cure" for their daughter, Tiny must decide whether Chouette should be raised to fit in or to be herself—and learn what it truly means to be a mother.

Arresting, darkly funny, and unsettling, Chouette is a brilliant exploration of ambition, sacrifice, perceptions of ability, and the ferocity of motherly love.

The Chouette audiobook features original music composed by Claire Oshetsky's daughter, Patricia Taxxon.

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About the Author-
  • Claire Oshetsky is a novelist whose writing has appeared in Salon, Wired, and the New York Times. She lives with her family in California. Chouette draws on her own experiences of motherhood.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 20, 2021
    Oshetsky’s wild and phantasmagorical debut takes a Dantean journey through the violent fever dreams of a woman in the trials of pregnancy and early motherhood. Tiny, an accomplished cellist, believes she has been impregnated by her “owl-lover” and that the baby inside her will most certainly be an “owl-baby.” Her husband fails to understand this, and Tiny leads the reader into the lonely terror she feels as she considers abortion, followed by her overwhelming, hormone-driven desire to have and protect the child. When Chouette is born, she is indeed strange: winged, ferocious, and ugly. Tiny’s husband, who insists on calling his daughter Charlotte, goes to great lengths to try to fix her, taking her to dicey doctors offering outlandish cures. But encouraged by Tiny, Chouette is allowed to become her true self. Tiny feeds Chouette frozen pinkie mice, and she hunts gophers in the backyard. When the husband finally tries to wrest Chouette away from Tiny, it becomes a mortal battle between good and evil. Tiny’s day-to-day struggles with child-rearing, blood-soaked and feces-covered, on the one hand offer a familiar view of a young mother’s delirious tedium, with the desperation and horror made vivid and strange by Oshetsky’s parable. No reader who has cared for a tiny human being will fail to recognize the battleground this talented author has conjured.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Julia Whelan conveys the hallucinatory beauty of Oshetsky's unsettling fever dream of a novel. Tiny, a concert cellist, is pregnant, but her pregnancy is different. Thanks to a dream encounter with an owl-woman, she is now having an owl-baby. From the outset, Whelan's steady, intense tone introduces a note of foreboding, which is realized with the birth of the tenacious, ugly, and deeply unnerving Chouette. This audiobook is a meditation on the darker realities of motherhood--boredom, fear, loneliness, and uncertainty. Whelan captures this complexity, sensitively rendering Tiny's despair and also her single-minded determination to honor Chouette's essential nature, despite society's pressure to do otherwise. Listeners will be enthralled by this phantasmagoric story, exquisitely told and luminous, despite its brutality. S.A.H. � AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine
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