Skip to main content

Madeleine Is Sleeping

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum


List Price: 14.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/27/2020)
Hardcover (9/1/2004)


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 as she leaves home, joins a gypsy circus, and falls into an unexpected triangle of desire and love.

Madeleine Is Sleeping received jubilant critical acclaim and was honored with a National Book Award nomination. Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, this "dream of a book" (Michael Cunningham) is an adventure in the discovery of art, sexuality, community, and the self.

Praise For Madeleine Is Sleeping


"Bynum's lush, poetic imagery is full of vivid, sensuous details one can almost smell, taste, and feel . . . Achingly human and poignantly telling."--The Boston Globe

"Hypnotic . . . A small, enchanting novel that appeals to the naughty, insolent child in each of us."--USA Today

"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

Mariner Books, 9780156032278, 272pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 2005

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.