A sweeping debut novel about love, sex, motherhood, and ambition told through the compelling struggle of a brilliant and iconoclastic scientist.
From practicing psychiatrist and critically acclaimed author of Scary Old Sex (“the kind of bliss that lifts right off the page” —Dwight Garner, NYT), Artifact is a dazzling, half-century-spanning debut novel that follows the fortunes 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 weathered a traumatic pregnancy and lost a child. Four years later, an injury ends Charlie’s football career, and 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.