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Cover for Madeleine Is Sleeping

Madeleine Is Sleeping

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/27/2020)
Paperback (11/1/2005)



When a girl falls into a deep and impenetrable sleep, the borders between her provincial French village and the peculiar, beguiling realm of her dreams begin to disappear: A fat woman sprouts delicate wings and takes flight; a failed photographer stumbles into the role of pornographer; a beautiful young wife grows to resemble her husband's viol. And in their midst travels Madeleine, the dreamer, who is trying to make sense of her own metamorphosis.

Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, this enchantingly inventive novel follows Madeleine as she leaves home, joins a gypsy circus, and falls into an unexpected triangle of desire and love.

Embracing the earthy and the ethereal, the comical and the poignant, Madeleine Is Sleeping is an adventure in the discovery of art, sexuality, community, and the self that transcends both time and place.

Praise For Madeleine Is Sleeping


"Madeleine Is Sleeping is, literally, a dream of a book: mysterious, funny, and startlingly beautiful. Every sentence is remarkable. If we had begun to suspect that American novelists had abandoned their grand and reckless ambitions, here is Sarah Shun-lien Bynum to give us hope."-Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

"This was as exciting a story as I remember anyone showing me for years-fresh, imaginative, original, and beautiful."
-Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed with Magellan

"Bynum's voice is vivid, her use of language incisive and surprising."

— BookForum

"A luminous debut novel..powerful and hauntingly elusive"

— Boston Globe

"Like a dream, this novel fills the mind with tantalizing ambiguity, haunting images, and innocent longings that are slow to fade."

— Christian Science Monitor

"Extravagantly imagined...a fantasy influenced by writers from Ludwig Bemelmans to Angela Carter"

— New York Times

"Bynum's boldly original first novel is an allegory of adolescence...every page offers something original."

— People

"A magical tale"

— Time Out New York

"Masterful...a voice at once sensuous and humorous, mellifluous and matter-of-fact"

— Washington Post Book World

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780151010592, 272pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2004

About the Author

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's fiction has appeared in the Georgia Review and Alaska Quarterly Review. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York.