Stubborn Archivist (Paperback)
Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award * Longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize * Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
“I read Stubborn Archivist in a ravenous gulp. It’s stunning: so articulate about what it means to live between two languages and countries, tenderly unraveling the knots of unbelonging.”
—Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City and Crudo
For fans of Chemistry and Normal People: A mesmerizing and witty debut novel about a young woman growing up between two disparate cultures, and the singular identity she finds along the way
But where are you really from?
When your mother considers another country home, it’s hard to know where you belong. When the people you live among can’t pronounce your name, it’s hard to know exactly who you are. And when your body no longer feels like your own, it’s hard to understand your place in the world.
In Stubborn Archivist, a young British Brazilian woman from South London navigates growing up between two cultures and into a fuller understanding of her body, relying on signposts such as history, family conversation, and the eyes of the women who have shaped her—her mother, grandmother, and aunt. Our stubborn archivist takes us through first love and loss, losing and finding home, trauma and healing, and various awakenings of sexuality and identity. Shot through the novel are the narrator's trips to Brazil, sometimes alone, often with family, where she accesses a different side of herself—one, she begins to realize, that is as much of who she is as anything else.
A hypnotic and bold debut, Stubborn Archivist is as singular as its narrator; a novel you won't soon forget.
About the Author
YARA RODRIGUES FOWLER was born in 1992. She grew up in a British Brazilian household in Balham, South London, where she is still based. She has an BA from Oxford University and an MA from University College London, and is a trustee of Latin American Women’s Aid. Stubborn Archivist is her first book.
Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award
Longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
One of "8 Latinx Book Recommendations From the Founders of The Latinx Read-A-Thon" (O, the Oprah Magazine)
"It has become something of a book booster’s cliché (and fib) to say they read a work 'in one gulp.' Yet twenty-something Brazilian-British author Yara Rodrigues Fowler’s transfixing Stubborn Archivist was engineered to go down faster than a 400-page novel has any right to. Mixing traditional prose with poems and flash fiction, her words whiz by like text message chains...It’s a unique work with a dedication to match: 'For Myself.'"
—Vanity Fair, Great Summer Reads
“I read Stubborn Archivist in a ravenous gulp. It’s stunning: so articulate about what it means to live between two languages and countries, tenderly unravelling the knots of unbelonging.”
—Olivia Laing, author of TheLonely City and Crudo
"Stubborn Archivist is an intimate and wonderfully resourceful exploration of origins. In its quest to uncover what a person is made of it digs deeply into the living body, as well as tracing back through its tangled roots. Visceral and elegant, circumspect and vivid, Yara Rodrigues Fowler has a distinctly unhampered way of telling a story; I liked Stubborn Archivist very, very much."
—Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond
“Intimate, rebellious, and meditative, Yara Rodrigues Fowler's exquisite deconstruction of a transnational life already in fragments will leave you spinning. Stubborn Archivist is wholly original and heralds the arrival of a remarkable new talent.”
—Patricia Engel, author of The Veins of the Ocean and others
“Yara Rodrigues Fowler’s debut is unlike any other book you’ve read. A blend of prose and poetry, it’s a collection of short pieces that gradually cohere into a larger narrative…Holding the disparate elements together is a strong sense of identity and voice…Flitting nimbly through generations, between Brazil and south London, between dating and dictatorship, this is a novel that is personal and political – and its unusual form is integral to its power.”
—Observer (UK), “Meet the hottest-tipped debut novelists of 2019”
"This novel beautifully explores the notion of home, belonging and trauma for people who, like this Brazilian-English writer, find themselves growing up between languages and cultures and identities. Written through collected bits and conversations the protagonist archives, this is a unique book you’ll be able to read in one immersive sitting."
—Elle (UK), "Ones To Watch: The New Writers We’re Excited To Read In 2019"
"A young Brazilian-British woman finds her footing between cultures in Rodrigues Fowler’s formally ambitious, captivating debut...Moving back and forth through time, alternating short prose sections with poems and pauses, and at times switching to Portuguese as the narrator 'finds the other words,' Rodrigues Fowler writes frankly and imaginatively of the felicities and difficulties of adolescence and family ties, and of learning 'to wrap your life around another person’s life.' This is a powerful debut."
—Publishers Weekly, "Books of the Week"
"In this artful debut, snatches of dialogue and prose-poetry illuminate the experience of growing up with a mixed identity...Rodrigues Fowler [executes] it so well, so warmly, with such a lived sense of how nothing is one thing or another, but probably both and neither...Tender, sharp, generous, she holds all these things lightly, up to the light."
"This is a work of inclusion and omission, of unearthing and rearranging...Funny, painful, and healing...Stubborn Archivist [has] a singular intimacy...Rodrigues Fowler writes a story of multicultural identity as it is impressed upon the physical bodies that live it."
—Independent, “30 of the best new debut novels to read in 2019”
"An #OwnVoices triumph...A daring debut novel, when the narrative is a mix of stunning prose and poetry...We need more novels like this, novels that tell stories that haven’t been told before. What is interesting about Stubborn Archivist is that it feels completely new, even though these stories have been told by word-of-mouth through generations of immigrant women. We need more novels that make people like me feel deeply seen as an immigrant, a Brazilian woman, and a daughter."
—Nicole Froio, BookRiot, "Stubborn Archivist is Proof #OwnVoices is Necessary"
“What a treat. So lyrical, playful and brave. I wish it had existed when I was younger, growing up between London and Brazil; it would have made me feel less alone.”
—Luiza Sauma, author of Flesh and Bone and Water, on Twitter
“[A] formally ambitious, captivating debut....Rodrigues Fowler writes frankly and imaginatively of the felicities and difficulties of adolescence and family ties, and of learning ‘to wrap your life around another person’s life.’ This is a powerful debut.”
“This beautiful debut is bursting with wit and self-awareness that make for an intensely pleasurable read. Fowler vividly captures the struggle of growing up in two cultures through a unique and lyrical narrative while seamlessly shifting between the past and present. This poetic novel will keep readers engaged from beginning to end.”
“[A] captivating, unconventional novel...This novel seeps with the sweet satisfaction of staking a place in the world.”
"In a world where the terms ‘borders’ and ‘migrants’ are becoming increasingly hijacked by politics, Rodrigues Fowler’s debut novel is a timely exploration of what it means to understand past and present and the delicate balance of embracing two cultures simultaneously. It’s also not afraid of exploring the trauma and politics of being female. Written in short, sharp bursts of poetry and prose, Rodrigues Fowler unites a very English culture with a Brazilian heritage turning a unstinting eye on the all-too-familiar conversations that second generations wearily face...Original and thought-provoking, this is a book that’s well worth your time."
“Stubborn Archivist is a little like finding someone’s notebook on a long train journey and reading it cover to cover by the time you reach your destination…It has the effect of being real.”
"A mixture of poetry, prose and a smattering of Portuguese make this debut about growing up in a Brazilian-English household unlike so much else that we're told is a 'strong female voice' today. Equally assured discussing Sainsbury's, bad dates or the intimacies of the second generation immigrant's experience, Rodrigues Fowler's has a tone instantly recognisable to anyone who has lived in the UK, yet entirely individual. Her story of straddling two cultures as a young woman torn between them is charming, pithy and moving."
—Grazia (UK), “Five female authors to read before everyone else does”
“A visceral experiment in form and language…A novel with a sense of urgency… It is a novel overflowing with violence and depression and silence, but there is love, too, and skin sticky with golden honey…Yara Rodrigues Fowler’s novel is an eloquent work of messiness, of ugliness.”
"Yara Rodrigues Fowler has written something extraordinary, playing with structure to create an insightful, lyrical and visceral novel."
—Emerald Street (UK)
“Compelling...Should delight anyone looking for a thoughtful, witty successor to Sally Rooney.”
"This is quite the debut. A book I feel I haven’t read a hundred times before, and one which I suspect will stand up very well to a second reading."
—Fiona Melrose, Women’s Prize longlisted author of Midwinter
"Every page oozes with caustic wit, despair and self-awareness, creating a lyrical debut that pushes the novel form like no other in recent years. A talent to watch."
—Nikesh Shukla, co-editor of The Good Immigrant
"My goodness. Yara Rodrigues Fowler has conjured a work of rare power, startlingly original form, and devastating beauty. This novel is a triumph."
—Musa Okwonga, author of A Cultured Left Foot
"Intimate and nonconforming, this debut is a beguiling insight into a Brazilian-English girl becoming a woman while treading a tightrope between multiple worlds."
—Reading Women Writers Worldwide
“This is undoubtedly the novel's strength: its ability to show something momentous—about cultural identity, sexual violence, racial prejudice—without seeming to say anything at all.”
—Times Literary Supplement