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Writing as Mourning in Kate Zambreno’s Book of Mutter: Ploughshares

In Book of Mutter, Kate Zambreno writes, “It is something ineffable about my mother that I search for.” This search, conducted over the thirteen years since Zambreno’s mother’s death, manifests in a fusion of memoir, essay, and meditation, and suggests how writing might come to embody the lifelong process of mourning a parent.

Of her mother, Kate Zambreno writes, “I perform her on my body . . . When I began working on this book, two years after her death, I began experiencing bodily disturbances.” Quickly the reader suspects that, for Zambreno, mourning is produced by the same organ, the same muscle or limb, as writing, and these disturbances which signify “the body what the mind wants to forget” fuel and shape Zambreno’s prose.

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Sue Rainsford