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I Will Never Tire of Swimming Inside Language: The Millions Interviews Lidia Yuknavitch

This post was produced in partnership with Bloom, a literary site that features authors whose first books were published when they were 40 or older.

Lidia Yuknavitch’s 2011 The Chronology of Water breathed new life into the memoir genre. It won a slew of awards and amassed a loyal following of readers who will forever champion Yuknavitch’s work. Prompted by a dare from author Chuck Palahniuk—”I’m not a big fan of memoir, but if you wrote one, I’d read it”—she wrote a story that had lived in her body for 20 years.

Yuknavitch’s memoir delivers fearless prose and lays bare the truths of survival and its many facets. The opening holds nothing back as we learn that her daughter was stillborn. The memoir ends on a note of real, messy ongoing-ness, along with its profound beauty. The reader is assured that Yuknavitch, once a competitive swimmer, is now learning to “live on land,” a small and tender thing.

Rhonda Hughes, publisher and editor of Hawthorne Books, said there are myriad reasons why Chronology went viral. “Number one being talent. Lidia’s one the most talented writers I know. How she played with form, language, and theme in The Chronology of Water was compelling. She writes what we want to say and talk about but are often afraid to. Her words burrow under your skin, lodge in your heart.”

In addition, the book’s cover,, and the book’s opening epigraph by clarifies the choice: “Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write your self. Your body must be heard.: Lidia Yuknavitch is pure corporeal-centric. She herself won’t be shrouded or placed in a box, especially one she fought her way out of.

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