From a critically acclaimed, Pushcart Prize-nominated performance artist, a funny, vivid, and ultimately heartbreaking memoir about forging identity in the chasm between cultures and classes
Anya Liftig grew up with her feet in two very different worlds. While her mother’s upbringing was so rural that the other kids called her “holler rat,” her father came from a comfortable, upper-middle-class Jewish family. Anya spent her childhood school years in Connecticut and her summers in the holler. Shaped by the experience, she would go on to win a scholarship to Yale and become an acclaimed artist, using provocative performances to explore the contradictions and unanswered questions of her life. But when the world Anya was building for herself shattered, she was forced to reconcile where she’d come from with who she was and who she wanted to be.
In Holler Rat
, Anya skillfully interweaves family lore from her childhood with descriptions of her performance art pieces and scenes of the year-long period in which her life fell apart, then plumbs the cathartic self-reckoning that followed. She takes us from her mamaw’s porch to the site of a violent family land feud; from Yale to the rancid odors of a pre-gentrified Bushwick loft; and from making out with a 14-pound salmon to having 243 raw eggs pelted at her in the name of art. In visceral, beautiful prose that ranges from raunchy and outrageous to serious and tragic, Holler Rat
is the origin story of an unconventional artistic life and a captivating account of the stumbling blocks, sacrifices, and discoveries along the way.