The Delivery Room
“If you spend time in Brownrigg’s world, you find yourself in a place that is refreshingly attuned to the small things of life, the things that make it worth living.” —The Guardian
It is 1998. In the safe haven of her North London flat—in a room her husband has ironically dubbed the Delivery Room—Serbian therapist Mira Braverman listens to the stories of her troubled patients. It’s a group that includes the Aristocrat, who battles the indignities of infertility treatment with brittle humor; the Mourning Madonna, who has lost the child she was carrying; and the American, a journalist who turns her search for the perfect father into jaunty copy for her weekly column.
As the novel unfolds, Mira discovers she is not as distant from their pains as she might once have been: her husband Peter struggles with illness, NATO’s threats against her country grow more serious, and submerged truths from her own past seem likely to erupt. Compelling, complex, and deeply human, The Delivery Room is an exploration of the relationship between therapist and patient—and a profound meditation on the meanings of wars fought from a distance, when ordinary citizens have to measure their personal griefs against the outrages experienced by those under attack.
You can also listen to Sylvia Brownrigg’s interview on the BBC here.
Available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.
“Sylvia Brownrigg has written one of the most outstanding and properly adult novels of recent years… For once, the word ‘unforgettable’ is justified.” —The Observer (UK)
“The Delivery Room is a beautiful novel, rich and dense and satisfying. Brownrigg sees with amazing depth and tenderness into the hearts of her real-as-real characters — and into the reader’s heart, too.” —Michael Chabon
“A stylist of taste and reserve… The thoughtfulness, the intelligence, of Brownrigg’s narration, its wry observations and moments of sharp insight into human suffering, are its most striking features.” —Los Angeles Times
“[Brownrigg]’s calibration of grief and compassion as she switches viewpoints among many characters and her scrupulous sensitivity lend the narrative a quiet compulsion. A gifted writer delivers a classic North London novel (sober; domestic; emotionally intelligent; middle-class) enhanced by insight and tenderness.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A stylist of taste and reserve… The thoughtfulness, the intelligence, of Brownrigg’s narration, its wry observations and moments of sharp insight into human suffering, are its most striking features.” (read the full review) —Los Angeles Times
“Thoughtful… The Delivery Room is a companionable, psychological novel with an ambitious context. Read it for its solid insights into life and humanness; they reward in generous measure.” (read the full review) —San Francisco Chronicle
“A stunning interpretation of birth, death, war and bereavement.” —Scotland on Sunday
“Grippingly readable… In its ambition and commitment, The Delivery Room stands out as one of the most striking and pleasing novels so far this year.” —The Times Literary Supplement
“Intensely intelligent and highly readable.” —The Times
“Brownrigg’s ability to invent character is outstanding. . . This is a novel in which there is a satisfying sense of trespass and of comprehensive revelation, as Brownrigg ambitiously plaits the narratives of patients and therapist together. She would make an excellent, if rebellious, analyst herself.” —The Observer
“A London therapist gets a lesson in pain and empathy in Brownrigg’s sparkling latest (after Morality Tale). It’s 1998, and Mira Braverman’s home office (dubbed “the delivery room” by her husband) overfloweth with troubled types. There’s “the Bigot,” Howard, a divorced diplomat who needles Mira about her Serbian heritage; “the American,” Jess, a single female journalist who longs for a baby; “the Aristocrat,” Caroline, who is fighting a battle with infertility; and “the Mourning Madonna,” Kate, who lost a daughter in utero. Only when Mira’s husband, Peter, is diagnosed with terminal lymphoma is Mira able to empathize with her patients, particularly as Peter’s health declines. In many ways, this novel is also about parenting—those who long to be mothers and can’t, and those who are ambivalent about the responsibilities. Because so much of the novel revolves around sessions, the narrative can become claustrophobic, but patient readers will appreciate Brownrigg’s detailed portrayals of the therapist and client dynamic, and the prose is tack sharp and effortlessly lyrical.”