Elissa Altman

Cindy Seip

Elissa Altman is the critically acclaimed author of Poor Man’s Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking and Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw. Her work has appeared in O: The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The New York Times, Tin House, and The Washington Post, among other places. Altman has taught the craft of memoir at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The Loft Literary Center, 1440 Multiversity, and Ireland’s Literature and Larder program. Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing (Ballantine Books) is her latest book.
After surviving a traumatic childhood in nineteen-seventies New York and young adulthood living in the shadow of her flamboyant mother, Rita, a makeup-addicted former television singer, Elissa Altman has managed to build a very different life, settling in Connecticut with her wife of nearly twenty years. Then Elissa is confronted with the unthinkable: Rita, suffers an incapacitating fall, leaving her completely dependent upon her daughter. To sustain their fragile mother-daughter bond, Elissa must navigate the turbulent waters of their shared lives, the practical challenges of caregiving for someone who refuses to accept it, the tentacles of narcissism, and the mutual, frenetic obsession that has defined their relationship. Motherland is a story that touches every home and every life, mapping the ferocity of maternal love, moral obligation, the choices women make about motherhood, and the possibility of healing.