On Sale Date: March 1, 2022
ISBN 9781635578256, 1635578256
Trade Paperback | 288 pages
Acclaimed author Arlene Heyman’s crackling novel of female drive and desire, reaching from midcentury to the Reagan era—a gifted biologist’s fight for life and love on her own terms.
Scary Old Sex (“the kind of bliss that lifts right off the page” —Dwight Garner, NYT), Artifact is the dazzling, half-century-spanning story of biologist Lottie Kristin. Born in Michigan in the early 1940s to a taciturn mother and embittered father, Lottie is independent from the start, fascinated with the mysteries of nature and the human body. By age sixteen, she and her sweetheart, cheerful high school sports hero Charlie Hart, have been through a devastatingly traumatic pregnancy. When an injury ends Charlie’s football career four years later, the two move to Texas hoping for a fresh start.
There, torn between the vitality of the antiwar movement and her family’s traditional values, Lottie discovers the joys of motherhood, and reconnects with her interest in biology and experimentation, taking a job as a lab technician. While Charlie’s depression pervades their home, Lottie’s instinct is toward life; though every step is a struggle, she opts for single motherhood, graduate school, a career, and, eventually, a marriage that makes space for all that she is.
Bravely and wisely written, Artifact is an intimate and propulsive portrait of a whole woman, a celebration of her refusal to be defined by others’ imaginations, and a meditation on the glorious chaos of biological life.