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Suzanne Scanlon


When Suzanne Scanlon was a student at Barnard in the 90s and grieving the loss of her mother, she made a suicide attempt that landed her in the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

After nearly three years and countless experimental treatments, Suzanne left the ward on shaky legs. In the decades it took her to recover from the experience, Suzanne came to understand her suffering as part of something larger: a long tradition of women whose complicated and compromised stories of self-discovery are reduced to ‘madwoman’ narratives.

Transporting, honest and unflinching, Suzanne recounts her story alongside her reading of writers from the ‘madwoman canon’ – including Audre Lord, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and radical feminist Shulamith Firestone. The result is a profoundly moving journey through madness, from breakdown to breakthrough, and a revelatory exploration of being a woman and being mad – and how interwoven those experiences can be.


‘Visceral, raw and tender, this candid and timely memoir is, at heart, a love-letter to the profound and redemptive power of literature.’
Annabel Abbs

‘Astute reflections on fragility, healing and wholeness.’