The #1 Irish bestseller and winner of Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the 2019 An Post Irish Book Awards, winner of the 2020 Dalkey Literary Awards, named Best Book of the Year by the Guardian, Observer, Image, Irish Times, New Statesman, and Irish Independent, Sinéad Gleeson’s essays chronicle—in crystalline, tender, powerful prose—life in a body as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood, and love of all kinds.
"I have come to think of all the metal in my body as artificial stars, glistening beneath the skin, a constellation of old and new metal. A map, a tracing of connections and a guide to looking at things from different angles."
We treat the body as an afterthought, until it no longer can be. Until the pain or the pleasure is too great. Sinéad Gleeson’s life has been marked by terrible illness, including leukemia and debilitating arthritis. As a child, she bathed in the springs of Lourdes, ever hopeful that her body would cooperate, ever looking forward to the day when she could take her body for granted. But just as she turns inward to explore her own pain, and then the marvel of recovery, and then the arrival of her greatest joys—falling in love, becoming a mother—she turns her gaze outward. She delves into history, art, literature, and music, plotting the intimate experience of life in a women’s body across a wide-ranging map. From Nick Cave to Taylor Swift, Botticelli to Frida Kahlo, Louisa May Alcott to Lucy Grealy, Constellations is an investigation into the different ways of seeing, both uniquely personal and universal in its resonances.
In the tradition of some of our finest life writers, Gleeson explores—in her own spirited, generous voice—the fierceness of being alive. She has written “a book [that] every woman should read” (Eimear McBride).
About the Author
SINÉAD GLEESON is a writer, editor and freelance broadcaster. She has been published in Granta, among many other places, and is the editor of three award-winning short anthologies, including The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers. Previously, Gleeson presented The Book Show on RTÉ Radio One in Ireland. She currently lives in Dublin.
"Gleeson's personal stories of pain, illness and death are unforgettable...Her experiences are rendered vividly and with an admirable lack of self-pity...Gleeson has an eye for telling detail." — New York Times Book Review
"Gleeson is an eloquent storyteller, and the stories are held in delicate balance with the analysis of her world." — The Guardian
"An eloquent collection of essays on health, parenthood and the brutality of being a woman inhabiting a body." — Harper's Bazaar
"This stirring collection of personal essays from Irish radio broadcaster Gleeson effortlessly renders pain, both physical and emotional, into prose...While 'in illness it is hard to find the right words,' Gleeson's strong work shows it is worth the effort to search for them." — Publishers Weekly
"Gleeson writes about pain with an absorbing intensity...Constellations will make you think differently about the body in all its weaknesses and feel grateful to the artists and writers who, like Gleeson, have transfigured their suffering into a sacred creative release. Though Gleeson is skeptical of heaven, she finds solace in the stars and their many constellations. In this book, she offers a unique map of her own constellations, one that has clearly helped her find her way when navigating a wide and painful world." — BookPage