The Critic's Daughter: A Memoir


Product Details

$28.95  $26.92
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
5.36 X 8.87 X 1.12 inches | 0.88 pounds

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About the Author

Priscilla Gilman grew up in New York City and is a former professor of English literature at Yale University and Vassar College. She has taught poetry appreciation to inmates in a restorative justice program and to New York City public school students. The Anti-Romantic Child, her first book, was excerpted in Newsweek magazine and featured on the cover of its international edition; it was an NPR Morning Edition Must-Read, Slate's Book of the Week, and selected as one the Best Books of 2011 by the Leonard Lopate Show. Gilman writes regularly for publications including the Daily Beast, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post, speaks frequently at schools, conferences, and organizations about parenting, education, and the arts, and is a Scholar/Facilitator for the New York Council for the Humanities. She lives in New York City with her family. The Anti-Romantic Child has been nominated for a Books for a Better Life Award for Best First Book.


The daughter of an unsparing critic, Priscilla Gilman has written a book her father would have deeply admired: a tender, unflinching memoir that is also a searching reflection on the relationship between criticism and love. The father she lost is vividly captured in this moving, gracefully written, bracingly honest book.--Eyal Press, author of Dirty Work
The Critic's Daughter holds so many joys in store for you: The joy of disappearing into a finely crafted world--in this case, of Gilman's mind, heart, and personal history. The joy of encountering a text sprinkled with insights, like so many pearls. But most of all, the joy of basking in Priscilla Gilman's capacious love--for her father, for her family, and for you, her reader.--Susan Cain, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet and Quiet
The Critic's Daughter is first and foremost a very touching love story about a father, a daughter, and their unbreakable bond. Priscilla Gilman writes with eloquence and absolute candor of her late father Richard Gilman, the esteemed, brilliant, but deeply troubled drama and literary critic.... An unforgettable read, The Critic's Daughter is as entertaining as it is moving.--James Lapine, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
The Critic's Daughter is an exquisite and rare example of how the memoir needs as much inventiveness in scope and form as our most lush fiction and poetry. Priscilla Gilman writes sentences I never see coming, and those sentences splinter into a textured model of how to write about--and through--art, perpetual discovery, and parenting. I've read few books in my life as skillfully executed and willfully conceived as The Critic's Daughter. This should not work. But my goodness, it just does.--Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
The Critic's Daughter is an exquisite love song, a riveting story, a book for our time. Any daughter with a father, anyone who has been part of a family, anyone who has struggled with loving, anyone interested in literary criticism, or the theater, or life, this is a book for you.--Andre Gregory, theater director, writer, and star of My Dinner With Andre
Passionate, resonant, and beautifully written...Evokes both a uniquely brilliant and troubled man and the poignantly relatable essence of the father-daughter connection.-- "Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"
Loss, grief, criticism, and love mix and mingle in this moving, literary memoir, one of the best father/daughter memoirs around.--Zibby Owens "Good Morning America"
With bracing honesty, The Critic's Daughter, Priscilla Gilman's perspicacious memoir, unmasks the privilege and the burden of her beloved father's life and his literary legacy...The Critic's Daughter spotlights an era of formidable criticism accomplished with conscious clarity. It's a reminder that criticism is a necessary art form. But the book is even more than that...Gilman's skills as a memoirist, playwright, poet, critic, dramaturge, and family historian set a high bar.--Yvonne Conza "BOMB Magazine"
Priscilla Gilman tells a fascinating story about her dynamic parents and the literary world that they inhabited... While The Critic's Daughter concerns itself with her parents' marriage and its aftermath, it's very much a book about the way one develops and nurtures a fascination with the arts through enthusiasm, criticism, and commerce.--Lauren LeBlanc "LitHub"
Gilman delightfully weaves the television shows, plays, and movies of her childhood into the story... [T]he heart of this memoir is the unusually powerful, fraught, and enduring father-daughter relationship. Gilman creates an emotional map of the catastrophic disruption of divorce and the devotion of a child for her parent despite his failings.--Jane Constantineau "New York Journal of Books"
Gilman writes with resplendent clarity, meticulous candor, and incandescent love forged in the fire of extraordinarily demanding family dynamics... Gilman incisively charts her remarkable father's intense ups-and-downs and lucidly analyzes her own struggles in a richly involving chronicle gracefully laced with literary allusions, compassion, and wisdom.-- "Booklist (starred review)"
This revealing and clearly heartfelt memoir--a love letter to her father that doesn't obscure the difficult and frustrating aspects of their relationship--works precisely because Gilman delivers a detailed portrait of her father, proverbial warts and all... She certainly provides the rest of us with a daughter's thoughtful and empathetic profile of her dad.--Daneet Steffens "Boston Globe"
The Critic's Daughter is about the complex love between a parent and a child... The memoir genre...pumps out innumerable rote tales of becoming, of breaking free, of learning to 'direct' one's own life. It offers few stories of being and remaining entangled... The Critic's Daughter is an account of a love that's neither takeoff strip nor landing pad, a child's confounding adoration for her parent that's neither really resolved nor extinguished.--Eve Fairbanks "Washington Post"
In capturing the essence of its challenging subject, The Critic's Daughter is a rare combination of honesty, warmheartedness and exquisite writing... Richard Gilman would be proud of the eloquence and grace with which she has done it.--Harvey Freedenberg "BookReporter"
Captivating and heartfelt... Gilman's reflections on her father's work, as well as her own struggles with identity, are both heartbreaking and inspiring... The Critic's Daughter is an honest and moving exploration of family, identity, and the human experience. It is a must-read for anyone looking for an intimate and honest look into the life of a literary family.-- "EU Times"
A brilliant, gorgeous, miracle of a book.--Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club and We Should Not Be Friends
Poignant... Bibliophiles will enjoy the literary cameos (Joan Didion, Toni Morrison) and reflections on literature, but Gilman's wrenching recollections of marital, and familial, dissolution are near-universal. This is an eye-opening testament to the lasting wounds of divorce.-- "Publishers Weekly"
A penetrating, plangent memoir, electric with emotional urgency and alive with self-awareness... Gilman has the gumption to look at her father, her mother and herself with clarity and without apology. She wonders if she can make radical honesty 'an act of love.' Her efforts are brave, and bracing.--Nneka McGuire "Wall Street Journal"
One of the reasons I loved Gilman's book is that through her father she makes a case for criticism as a worthwhile practice... The Critic's Daughter is a book about a lot of things, but one of them is this: that a fierce and powerful voice, a voice that some people were afraid to hear, can disguise an awful lot of trouble and pain. The critic's daughter--the writer, as opposed to the book--has the tenderness, the acuity, and the facility to explore her father and her relationship to him in ways that cannot help but resonate. Maybe this is because all of us are the children of critics, in one way or another.--Nick Hornby "The Believer"
Intimate, thoughtful... For me, this memoir read as a rare confluence of things--not so much a 'Daddy Dearest' settling of scores, but a sincere attempt to untangle a father-daughter knot of love, hurt, and grief... [S]earing.--Misha Berson "American Theatre"
The Critic's Daughter hits home not just as an insider's chronicle of a notable literary family, but as a depiction of the pain a broken marriage inflicts... Gilman's memoir is testament to an upbringing infused with a love of language and literature.--Alice Sparberg Alexiou "Lilith"