Queen for a Day: A Novel in Stories (Paperback)
Mimi Slavitt’s three-year-old son is autistic, but if we told her, she wouldn’t listen, because she doesn’t want to know—until at last his behavior becomes so strange that even she can’t ignore it. Mimi inhabits a world nearly as isolating as her son’s—one that she shares with mothers like her, chosen against their will for lives of sacrifice and martyrdom. Searching for miracles, fighting heartless bureaucracies while arranging every minute of every day for children who can never be left alone, they exist in a state of perpetual crisis, normal life always just out of reach.
In chapters told from Mimi’s point of view and theirs, we meet these mothers, each a complex character totally unsuitable for sainthood and dreaming of the day she can just she walk away. Taking its title from the 1950s reality show that made suffering housewives compete against each other for deluxe refrigerators and life-saving operations, Queen for a Day portrays a group of imperfect women under enormous pressure.
Rosaler tells their story in ironic, precise and vivid prose, with dark humor and insight born of first-hand experience.
About the Author
Maxine Rosaler's fiction and nonfiction have been published in The Southern Review, Glimmer Train, Witness, Fifth Wednesday, Green Mountains Review, The Baltimore Review and other literary magazines. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Fiction. Stories of hers have been cited in editions of Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. She lives in New York City with her husband, Phillip Margulies.
“An engrossing and compassionate collection showing motherhood in its most unrelenting form.”
— Kirkus, starred review
“Rosaler writes of Mimi’s ongoing struggle from firsthand experience and instills in her protagonist such fierce resolve to do all she can for her son while simultaneously limning awkward episodes with ironic humor; the reader becomes immersed in all that the diagnosis of autism in one’s child must entail.”
“It’s about time someone wrote a humorous novel that shines a light on the plight of parents who are coping with unbearable stress and impossible challenges while raising their amazing, special-needs kids.”
— New York Parenting
“The title, taken from the 1950s reality TV show that pitted downtrodden housewives against one another for prizes, hints at Rosaler’s ironic humor. These stories are not happy, but are a testament to resilience and perseverance, and a glance into lives that many are spared.”
— Shelf Awareness, Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco
“Few have written fiction about these situations, and Rosaler does so with humor, wisdom and a big heart. She reveals much about love and marriage and New York life.”
— New York Jewish Week
“A story that each of us needs to read. Queen for a Day...exposes an ugly underworld of doctors and bureaucrats...although woven with unbearable frustrations and fears [it] ultimately reveals lives that grow in love, acceptance and gratitude.”
— Los Angeles Jewish Journal
“An inherently compelling, and exceptionally well-written novel by an author with a genuine flair for narrative storytelling and the creation of memorable characters, Maxine Rosaler’s Queen for a Day is an extraordinary read from beginning to end.”
— Midwest Book Review