Maud Casey

City of Incurable Women
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Now available from Bellevue Literary Press

"Casey’s subtle braiding of suffering and strength is the beating heart of this extraordinary work of imagination. The trauma her characters experience never becomes a pat explanation for personal difficulties or failures. Instead, these “incurable women” create complex selves always in motion — full of pain but also power, pleasure, and above all mystery."Hannah Joyner, On the Seawall

"With acute empathy, Casey is here as witness and scribe." Terry Hong, Shelf Awareness

"Casey's dedication reads "for my fellow incurables" and this short, enchantingly strange book feels animated by compassion. In the section on Geneviève Legrand, she writes, "Bodies, you think, are like haunted houses." These accounts haunt the reader with their subjects' strength of spirit, even amid their thwarted dreams and desires."Star Tribune

"Despite its often somber tone, “City of Incurable Women” is in the end affirmative and inspiring, a powerful demonstration of Maud Casey’s artistry."Boston Globe

"Casey’s invented narratives detail the experiences of women variously born in poverty, abandoned by fathers, given up by mothers, abused by employers, and—literally—inscribed with the name of the hospital by the doctors who exhibited as much as studied them. And who never cured or released them. Unlike Casey who, in giving them voices and endowing them with a skilled novelist’s lyrical, rhythmic language—“when I broke every plate in the furrier’s house, the sound glittered like the sea”—has arguably done both, even as she also shows that this 19th-century malady exists on a continuum with martyred saints, burned witches, and today’s chronic fatigue patients."Laurie Greer, Politics & Prose

"Told through a chorus of forgotten voices interspersed with historical photos and case documents, the thousands of hysterical women confined in the largest asylum of 19th century Europe offer up their own “secret history.” Reduced to stereotypes of the fragile female mind by narcissistic psychiatrists, their inner lives reclaim a new, fuller form in this remarkable book."Keaton Patterson, Brazos Bookstore

"I love this small book, its alluring assemblage of visuals and the poignant often piercing prose. It invites itself to be kept close, put in a purse or satchel for browsing in an idle moment after the once-through reading, so much to hear from the ghostly hysterics: “We were saints. We were witches. We were burned at the stake. We are on fire still.” Maud Casey has written a triumphant homage to the women of Paris’s Salpêtrière asylum, and her fellow incurables everywhere."Kassie Rose, The Longest Chapter

"It defies convention and revels in searing, gorgeous language. In fact, this is worth reading twice." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"In Casey's unusual collection of short pieces that blur lines among fiction, poetry, and essay, these photos and other historical records, such as manuals and case notes, are used as the basis of poetic meditations on the collective and individual lives of these 'incurables.'" Kirkus Review

"In exquisite prose, Maud Casey has built a city inside a book, a city that is a hospital, a museum, a dance, a body in ecstasy just outside the frame. On every page of this achingly beautiful book, Casey brings a wise and feral attention to the so-called incurables of the 'era of soul science'—Augustine, Louise, Marie, Geneviève, and a chorus of nameless others singing their private beginnings and public ends." Danielle Dutton, author of SPRAWL and Margaret the First

"City of Incurable Women is a brilliant exploration of the type of female bodily and psychic pain once commonly diagnosed as hysteria—and the curiously hysterical response to it commonly exhibited by medical men. It is a novel of powerful originality, riveting historical interest, and haunting lyrical beauty." Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend and What Are You Going Through

"I would follow Maud Casey anywhere. In City of Incurable Women, she has given us her best work yet. This is a song for the forgotten, full of voices that will stay with you and guide you—an astonishing portrayal of rage and hope. What a glorious work of art and what a true gift to us."Paul Yoon, author of Snow Hunters and Run Me to Earth