VFA Recommended Books


Lila Karp
-- has been reprinted by the Feminist Press in their Classic Feminist Writers Series.


Remember the old nursery rhyme "Sing a song of sixpence"? It included this line: "the queen is in the parlor, eating bread and honey." Author and feminist activist Lila Karp turned this image on its head in the 1960s when she was writing her novel, The Queen Is in the Garbage. She created a gripping stream-of-consciousness tale that describes the inner turmoil of a woman enduring a fourteen-hour labor. Karp shows her protagonist struggling to make sense of men, marriage, miscarriages, abortion, sexuality, racism, and psychological entanglements ­ all the issues the nascent women's movement was confronting.

Shifting seamlessly between past and present, consciousness and dreams, Lila Karp explores the conflicted psyche of thirty-two-year-old Harriet Battenberg as she inventories her life during a fourteen-hour labor. Wrenching flashbacks recall embittering conflicts with her mother, unfulfilling relationships with men, a miscarriage, and an abortion. Harriet’s struggle above all is to understand how her perception of womanhood has brought her to this moment of personal crisis.

Lila Karp halts time in the midst of exploring the psychological and sexual entanglements of a woman’s experience. Her wit and distinct literary style make hers a unique voice among writers from the 1960s U.S. feminist movement, a voice that still resounds today for everyone fighting to find themselves and write their own histories and futures. The Queen Is in the Garbage is a shocking and absorbing story that uses a feminist perspective to deconstruct fundamental questions of womanhood, autonomy, and the very essence of human existence.

Press Reviews

The New York Times
“Lila Karp is clear about confusion; it’s an accomplishment to map chaos with such skill.”

The Village Voice
“At any given moment, life becomes an accounting, a listing, a bookkeeper’s sheet offered in answer to the question: what am I doing here? Lila Karp’s novel is, essentially, the ledger-sheet answer to that question.”

Kate Millet
“For a whole generation of women . . . Lila Karp has managed to get it all on paper.”


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