The Singer Sisters: A Novel (Hardcover)

The Singer Sisters: A Novel By Sarah Seltzer Cover Image
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Two generations of a folk-rock dynasty collide over art, love, longing, and family secrets in this captivating and poignant debut

It's 1996, and alt-rocker Emma Cantor is on tour, with her sights trained on a record deal. Emma’s got no lack of inspiration for her music — chiefly her mother Judie, a 1960s folk legend whose confessional songs made her an icon before her mysterious withdrawal from the public eye. Emma is baffled by Judie's coldness, and is deeply shaken when she learns a long-kept secret about their family. When Emma uncovers more about her mother's past, she is vaulted to new heights as a performer. But the knowledge she gains also propels her toward a musical betrayal that further fractures her relationship with Judie. Increasingly famous, but fragile and isolated, Emma grapples with her mother’s legacy and what it means for her own future.

With the richness of a beloved folk song, The Singer Sisters moves between ’60s folk clubs and ’90s music festivals, chronicling the ups and downs of stardom while asking what women artists must sacrifice for success.

About the Author

For more than a decade, Sarah Seltzer has been a feminist journalist and cultural critic. Her lively writing for publications including The New York Times, TIME, Jezebel, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, The Nation, and many other places has shaped the discourse on subjects ranging from Hollywood casting, to abortion rights, to Jane Austen and beyond. A native and lifelong New Yorker, Sarah is currently the Executive Editor at Lilith Magazine. The Singer Sisters is her debut novel.

Praise For…

"It's rare to find characters as richly rendered, a fictional world as expertly drawn, or a story as captivating. Like the best albums, The Singer Sisters is one you'll finish and immediately want to start over from the first track."Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire and Skinny

"Tearing through the pages of The Singer Sisters was like flipping through a friend's magnificent record collection and wanting to borrow every last one of them. Sarah Seltzer's sweeping and tenderly crafted novel is a quilted history of American music that reminds us that the past can sing, if we're listening." —Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes and Sleeping With Friends

"I devoured Sarah Seltzer’s debut novel The Singer Sisters as it swung between the 1960s folk scene and the 1990s alt rock scene. Seltzer spins a profound web, showing the complex intergenerational push and pull between mothers, daughters, sisters. Long kept secrets are revealed through songs and albums and mysterious strangers." —Bethany Ball, author of The Pessimists

"Taking the reader from Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s to the casually misogynistic L.A. pop-rock world of the late 1990s and early 2000s, The Singer Sisters is a superb novel—inventive, original, and extremely intelligent. It is also fast-paced, absorbing and full of heart, with a well-drawn and appealing cast of characters whose fates the reader comes to care about deeply. I felt bereft when it was over." —Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

“What a story: artists, sisters, daughters, mothers, rivals, guitars. The Singer Sisters is a totally fresh and original rock & roll saga of a family full of formidable, creative, unforgettable women. Seltzer writes about different music generations with an expert’s eye and a fan’s ear, nailing all the details of how songs become part of our lives, as the singers connect and clash over the years. She makes the whole novel flow like a brilliantly complex but heart-wrenching love song.” —Rob Sheffield, bestselling author of Love is a Mixtape and Dreaming the Beatles

"The Singer Sisters, which follows a multigenerational folk-rock family, is a breezy, compelling read with momentous questions at its core. What does it mean to be parented sufficiently—to be loved well? What is worth sacrificing for the sake of artistic ambition? Does the muse work on a timeframe, or will it wait? Ultimately, Seltzer presents an entrancing vision not of having it all at the same time, but of finding satisfaction, even triumph, anyway." —Jessica Gross, author of Hysteria

"You’ll be drawn in by the music and the free-wheeling folk scene Seltzer so deftly and convincingly creates, but what will stay with you long after the novel’s end are the main characters—Judie, Emma, Sylvia and Rose—four vibrant women bound, and sometimes tormented by, their fierce ties." —Kitty Zeldis, author of The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights

"An expertly-imagined family drama, suffused with hard truths, deep betrayal, and a most generous, surprisingly steadfast love." —Elisa Albert, author of Human Blues

"In prose as musical as its subject matter, Sarah Seltzer takes us into an unforgettable family of singer-songwriters, exploring maternal ambivalence, the call of art, and the messy, vibrant, ever-changing state of family life. I was sad to reach the final page." —Elizabeth Graver, author of Kantika

"What a pleasure to read this book! A delightful journey through the folk and rock scenes from the 60s through the early aughts, told through the kaleidoscopic voices of one family. I loved dipping down into the early folk scenes of Cambridge and New York, the feminist rock of the 90s, the pop industry of the 2000s, and seeing how a family can be torn apart, and stitched back together, via the miracle of song." —Robin MacArthur, author of Half Wild and Heart Spring Mountain

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250907646
ISBN-10: 1250907640
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: August 6th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English