A meditation on in vitro fertilization that expands and complicates the stories we tell about pregnancy.
Medical interventions become an exercise in patience, desire, and delirium in this intimate account of bodily transformation and disruption. In candid, graceful prose, Isabel Zapata gives voice to the strangeness and complexities of conception and motherhood that are rarely discussed publicly. Zapata frankly addresses the misogyny she experienced during fertility treatments, explores the force of grief in imagining possible futures, and confronts the societal expectations around maternity. In the tradition of Rivka Galchen’s Little Labors and Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness, In Vitro draws from diary and essay forms to create a new kind of literary companion and open up space for nuanced conversations about pregnancy.
Isabel Zapata is a Mexico City–born writer and editor. She is the author of the poetry bookUna ballena es un paísand the bilingual essay collection Alberca vacía / Empty Pool(trans. Robin Myers). Recent work has appeared in English translation in World Literature Today, Waxwing, The Common,andWords Without Borders. She is a cofounder and publisher at Ediciones Antílope.
Robin Myers is a Mexico City–based poet and translator. Her translations include Copyby Dolores Dorantes (Wave Books), The Dream of Every Cellby Maricela Guerrero (Cardboard House Press), The Book of Explanationsby Tedi López Mills (Deep Vellum Publishing), Cars on Fireby Mónica Ramón Ríos(Open Letter Books), and The Restless Deadby Cristina Rivera Garza (Vanderbilt University Press).
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"An insightful personal history but also a brilliant philosophical text about the very nature of sacrifice and autonomy." —Arianna Rebolini, Vulture
“In this essay-like collection, Zapata examines in vitro fertilization and the narratives that drive societal expectations and pressures in conception and pregnancy. Unveiling a nuanced view of motherhood and fertility treatment, In Vitro will illuminate aspects of pregnancy not often discussed.” —Lupita Aquino, TODAY
“This lyrical meditation by Mexican poet Zapata reflects on the life-changing power of pregnancy and motherhood. . . . With poetic prose, sensitively translated by Myers, Zapata’s sometimes surprising perspective offers a fresh take on the pregnancy memoir. Elegant and sharp, this is worth seeking out.”—Publishers Weekly “Zapata probes the enduring mysteries of pregnancy and birth in In Vitro, a memoir in fragments that travels from fertility treatment through to the early weeks of pandemic-time motherhood. . . . A resolute account of a personal metamorphosis, In Vitro alchemizes tender experiences into enchanting vignettes.” —Rebecca Foster, Foreword Reviews,starred review
“From its first sentences, I was riveted to In Vitro. Isabel Zapata has an effortlessly engaging style, at once casual and thrillingly deep. Her skill at playing with language, chronology, and genre will leave her readers feeling spellbound, affirmed, and, most of all, free. This is a profoundly liberatory book.” —Emily Gould
“Isabel Zapata has created an elegant and brave poetics of the body. This is transformative literature that gives birth to a new language capable of expanding what it means to mother a child, or an idea, or a society.” —Terry Tempest Williams
Praise for Isabel Zapata
“Isabel Zapata writes with a fluidity that can only come from wisdom. Sometimes it feels like we’re listening to her speak more than reading her on the page; it even feels like we can speak back.” —Alejandro Zambra