With My Back to the World
376 pages | 978-1-928088-80-6
In an ambitious, yet intimate novel set in Taos, New Mexico, and Hamilton, Ontario, Sally Cooper explores unexpected motherhood, creativity, race, love and faith. With My Back to the World tells the stories of three women: Rudie, who is editing a documentary in Hamilton in 2010; historical artist Agnes Martin, who decides in 1974 after seven years’ exile in New Mexico to begin painting again; and Ellen, a black woman burying her husband in 1870 on an Ontario homestead. Each of these women is waiting for the arrival of an unexpected child and their interconnected stories explore how society’s, and our own, ideas of what it means to be a woman, a mother and an artist change over time. Evocative and introspective, With My Back to the World tells the complicated stories of how different women find faith in themselves in extraordinary circumstances.
Intuitive Surrender (Kathryn Walsh Kuitenbrouwer, Hamilton Review of Books, 28/05/2019)
"It wasn't until I imposed restrictions and tasks for myself that I could start writing. In my own life, I had the structure of new motherhood. [...] Then there were structures I imposed on the narrative: Agnes's, Ellen's, and Rudie's stories each unfold during the course of one day, and their chapters have mirroring moments and objects. Working this way allowed me to strike that exquisite balance. With such constraints, life-imposed and self-imposed, I could surrender."
Storylines - May 18 2019 (Christine Crowley, Storylines, 18/05/2019)
"With My Back to the World, is a delicately layered, sustaining bit of soulfood—the perfect accompaniment to a spring tonic."
11 Books that Write the World (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 09/05/2019)
"Why we're taking notice: With My Back to the World is one title on a fantastic list of "Editors' Picks" for Spring 2019 published by the good people at the Hamilton Review of Books."
Buzz Cut (Hamilton Magazine, Spring 2019)
"A masterful storyteller, Cooper weaves together each woman's narrative through interconnected stories set against a universal theme of womanhood, and what it means to be a woman."
The Recommend: Squatters, Classics, Stories, and Violence (49th Shelf, 01/05/2019)
Sally recommends a book for 49th Shelf's The Recommend series.
WHAT WE'RE READING: EDITORS' PICKS, SPRING 2019 (Hamilton Review of Books, 26/04/2019)
Sally's book makes the list of HRB Editors' picks for Spring 2019.
About the Author
Sally Cooper is the author of two acclaimed novels, Love Object and Tell Everything, and the linked story collection Smells Like Heaven. Her writing has appeared in CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries; Electric Literature; Event; The Feathertale Review; Globe & Mail; Grain; The Millions and The New Quarterly. In 2017, her writing was longlisted for the Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest, the Short Works Prize and the Vancouver Women in Film and Television From Our Dark Side Contest. Sally is a senior editor of Hamilton Review of Books. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario.