The Shame

Makenna Goodman (Author)


A Literary Hub Recommended Read for August 2020
A Bustle "Most Anticipated Book of August 2020"

What if you could change your life? Would you do it? How would you do it?

Alma and her family live close to the land: they raise chickens and sheep, they make maple syrup. Every day Alma's husband leaves for his job at a nearby college while she stays home with their young children, cleans, searches for secondhand goods online, and reads books by the women writers she adores. Then, one night, she abruptly leaves it all behind--speeding through the darkness, away from their Vermont homestead, bound for New York.

In a series of flashbacks, Alma reveals the circumstances and choices that led to this moment. The joys and claustrophobia of their remote life through the passing of each season. Her fears and uncertainties about motherhood. The painfully awkward faculty dinners. Her feelings of loneliness and failure. And her growing fascination with Celeste: the mysterious ceramicist and self-loving doppelg nger whose story begins as inspiration for Alma before turning into a powerful obsession.

A fable both blistering and surreal, The Shame is a propulsive, funny, and thought-provoking debut about a woman in isolation, whose mind--fueled by capitalism, motherhood, and the search for meaningful art--attempts to betray her.

Product Details

$15.00  $13.80
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
August 11, 2020
5.4 X 0.6 X 8.4 inches | 0.48 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Makenna Goodman is the author of The Shame which was named a Literary Hub Recommended Read for August 2020 and a Bustle "Most Anticipated Book of August 2020". Her words and work have been featured in The Paris Review, Electric Literature, Guernica, Lit Hub, Catapult, The Rumpus, the Adroit Journal, and others. More information can be found at


"A delicious, important moral corrective of a novel for our moment of performance, obsessive witnessing, and self-doubt, written in gripping and beautiful prose. Makenna Goodman draws a dark and suspenseful tale out of the feelings of envy women have for one another, fanned in this moment of high capitalism--a shame many of us know and feel, that reading this novel somehow helps disperse."--Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?

"Makenna Goodman writes with blazing clarity and admirable wit about the joys and sorrows of raising children. Her depiction of the longing, self-loathing, and quiet rage that accompanies sidelined ambition is brilliantly complex."--Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation and Weather

"A wickedly smart, wry, raw interrogation of one mother's choices. In sentences packed with wit and insight, Makenna Goodman's entrancing debut explores the envy and self-doubt that come with selecting one sort of life over another. The reader shares the narrator's desperate curiosity about how her madcap adventure will end."--Helen Phillips, author of The Need

"The Shame impresses one with its intelligence and artistry. What goes on inside a woman remains the new frontier."--Susan Minot, author of Evening

"A scarifying portrayal of a particular female madness. Keep your eye on Makenna Goodman--a writer of original voice and genuine talent."--April Smith, author of A Star for Mrs. Blake

"We begin as Alma, our narrator, flees her two young children, husband, and pastoral life in the Vermont countryside, heading for New York City. From there, Makenna Goodman's daring first novel examines what led up to this moment, and how even an existence that many people of my generation believe is the 'Ideal Life', of motherhood, of living off the land, of ethical consumption, a life of intention, is still not without its limitations. It's necessary work, a novel that felt like a distant relative of the all-time great novel Revolutionary Road. The Shame is as exacting and defiant, and at times, as existentially gutting. I loved it." --Adlai Yeomans, White Whale Bookstore

"The Shame is a brilliant look at what it means to be a woman in the world right now. In captivating, witty prose, Makenna Goodman writes of the beauty and challenges of rural living, how motherhood and art sometimes collide, and of the insidious ways that technology can infiltrate a life. I adored this fierce, impressive debut!" --Shari Altman, Literary North