The Gift

The Gift (Emily Books) by [Browning, Barbara]

Barbara BrowningTHE BOOK: The Gift (or, Techniques of the Body)


THE AUTHOR: Barbara Browning

THE EDITOR: Emily Gould and Ruth Curry (Emily Books Imprint)

THE PUBLISHER: Coffee House Press

SUMMARY: In the midst of the Occupy movement, Barbara Andersen begins spamming people indiscriminately with ukulele covers of sentimental songs. A series of inappropriate intimacies ensues, including an erotically charged correspondence and then collaboration with an extraordinarily gifted and troubled musician living in Germany. The Gift is a sometimes funny, sometimes catastrophically sad story of performance art, music, dance, and our attempts and failures to make contact.

THE BACK STORY: As the narrator tells you, most everything in this novel really happened, except for the things the narrator tells you didn’t really happen.

WHY THIS TITLE: Because we need to have a little hope in crazy, utopian projects right now, like the redemptive power of sharing our gifts, even if we may know we’re kidding ourselves.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Because they also want to believe in fiction.


“…a smart, funny, heartbreaking and often sexy delight of a novel that presses hard against the boundaries of where literary and artistic performances begin and end.” — The New York Times

“Browning is working at the edges of her craft, and it’s utterly thrilling to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Barbara Browning’s winning and expansive novel describes one woman’s intimacies with lovers, strangers, culture and ideas, family and friends during serveral months in NY between 2012 and 2013. Browning brilliantly synthesizes her work as a scholar and artist into a single identity, becoming at once a master monologist, Storyteller, and historian of her amorphous tribe.” —Chris Kraus

“Barbara Browning’s gift is delicacy’s embrace of edge, daring’s embrace of openness, dance’s embrace of song, in open tuning: a blues for intimacy’s constant rupture and repair, held out in simple and miraculous gesture. I mean to say that her sentences are carefully held out hands signing the theory and practice of generosity, speaking with such plain obscurity that what has been covered — the lonesome miracle of what it is to be together — is now visible.” —Fred Moten

“…an exceptionally graceful page presence: loony and profound, vulnerable and ingenuous, Barbara acts to unify the book’s central concerns, giving its intellectual flights of fancy a palpable human pulse.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

AUTHOR PROFILE: Barbara Browning teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. She is the author of two prior novels, The Correspondence Artist and I’m Trying to Reach You. She’s also a dancer, poet, and amateur ukuleleist.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: A number of short essays and interviews about this book are circulating on the Internet, for example here, and here.


LOCAL OUTLETS: Local for the author: Word Bookstore (Brooklyn), Greenlight Bookstore (Brooklyn), Unnameable Books (Brooklyn), The Strand (NYC), Barnes and Noble (NYC), etc.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: All the usual online outlets, as well as and

PRICE: $15.95


Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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