The Ancestry of Objects


By Tatiana Ryckman

A young woman contemplates the end of her life as she’s known it as tragedy after tragedy accumulates around her, threaded with her relationship to desire, consent, and control.

Publication Date: September 8th, 2020

Paperback: 9781646050253

eBook:  9781646050260



A young woman meets a man at a restaurant while contemplating her own death. They exchange words only briefly, but by the end of the week he has entered her world with an intensity rivaled only by her desire to end her life.

Told with the lyrical persistence of a Greek chorus, The Ancestry of Objects unravels the story of the unnamed narrator’s affair with David: married, graying, and in whose malcontent she sees her need for change. Religion, the mystery of her absent mother, and the ghosts of her grandparents haunt her meetings with him. Memories start, stop, and loop back in on themselves to form the web of her identity and her voice—something she’s looked for her whole life. Nothing can fill the voids of time and loss; not God, not memory, not family, and certainly not love.

At once intensely sensory and urgently erotic, The Ancestry of Objects parses the multiplicity of selves who become a part of us as we push to survive. This is Ryckman – a master of the obsessive, desirous, complex exhaustion of human relationships – in peak form.

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“I’ve always loved Ryckman’s fiction, but nothing in the idiosyncratic originality of her short stories prepared me for her stunning novel with its dark eroticism, its plunge into depths of loneliness, and its quest for paradoxical liberation. Her extraordinary narrator lives in a state of erasure but thinks as plural: the social self for whom everything is always “fine”; the guilty, sinful self as defined by the now-dead grandparents; the self who needs to be seen through the outside eye of the absent lover, the absent God; and most of all, the self who feels dead in daily life and alive when courting an exuberant annihilation. In reading this powerful and disturbing short novel, I found myself splitting as well, into the reader who could not put these pages down, and the reader who had to, in order to regain her equilibrium and catch her throttled breath.” – Diane Lefer, award-winning author of California Transit, playwright, and activist

On I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do):
“(Ryckman) has joined the likes of Clarice Lispector, Claudia Rankine, and John Berger.” —Matthew Dickman, author of Mayakovsky’s Revolver

Ryckman has written the anti-love story within all of us. A book so earnest and sharp in its examination of heartbreak, it will make you ache for all the people you haven’t even loved yet.”—T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls and No Tokens

“Keenly felt and fiercely written. Tatiana Ryckman is a revelation.”—Jennifer duBois, author of Cartwheel

“Tatiana Ryckman has written a wonder; a remarkably accomplished work of such keen observation and emotional complexity as to rival those texts—Maggie Nelson’s Bluets come to mind—with which it shares some literary DNA. Ryckman is a ruthless investigator of reckless desire … I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do) asks—newly, stunningly, with precise prose chiseled from stone—what it is we’re meant to do when the source of our appetite is beyond the realm of our own cognition, and following this narrator in pursuit of the unanswerable is a reading experience as gutting as it is thrilling. One finishes this book with the simple thought: Now here is a person.”—Vincent Scarpa