The Fifth Wound
Published by: Nightboat Books
Imprint: Nightboat Books
288 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in
- Published: March 2023
Named a must read book of 2023 by Nylon, BookRiot, Vulture, The Millions, and Ms. Magazine!
A baroque work of intimate myth exploring one woman’s interdimensional search for beauty and embodiment, through kaleidoscopic renderings of hospital corridors, brutal breakups, and passionate romance.
The Fifth Wound is a phantasmagorical roman à clef about passion as a way of life. In one dimension, this is a love story—Aurora & Ezekiel—a separation and a reunion. In another, we witness a tale of multiple traumatic encounters with transphobic violence. And on yet another plane, a story of ecstatic visionary experience swirls, shatters, and sparkles. Featuring time travel, medieval nuns, knifings, and t4t romance, The Fifth Wound indulges the blur between fantasy and reality. Its winding sentences open like portals, inviting the reader into the intimacy of embodiment—both its pain and its pleasures.
"Chocked full of winding, brilliant sentences sure to turn readers’ minds inside out, this is a tale of trans love and fantasy that engages with the full scope of the good, the frightening, and the profound."—Isle McElroy, Vulture
"Aurora, a trans writer trying to get her work published, narrates this dreamlike novel in which she reflects on past memories of love and violence and yearns for her love, Ezekiel." —New York Times
"Transcending the limiting confines of not just society, but reality as well, Mattia’s novel promises the reader an experience that recalibrates simplistic notions of truth and fiction, reality and illusion."—ES, The Millions
"Aurora Mattia’s cosmic, intimate collection of coming of age trans love and fantasy tells different stories of time travel, transphobia and knifings, and T4T romance."—Sophia June, NYLON
"A speculative trans roman à clef about an interdimensional search for love, agency, and freedom from violence for trans people."—Liberty Hardy, BOOK RIOT
"Mattia flouts genre conventions with a fierce debut about love, trauma, and the publishing industry’s gatekeepers."—Publishers Weekly
"I have never read anything like Aurora’s writing. I would say less that I have read her work and say more that I have felt it, deep inside my body. It makes my heart ache. It also makes me long for a hard cock down my throat. Her work is a true spiritual experience, in that it causes me lust, grief, anger and ecstasy, sometimes one after the other and sometimes all at once."—Carta Monir
"The Fifth Wound contains some of the most deliriously, convulsively, terrifyingly beautiful writing I've ever seen. In the delicate, fleshy membrane of her prose, Mattia holds shards of pain, defiance, erudition, and above all passion - with all the biblical resonances of that word. The book is an astonishment."—Barbara Browning
"In presenting the transfemme as a systematically villainized siren, The Fifth Wound explores what can happen to us when our songs become twisted and warped, or else ignored. With its evocative, mythological imagery and unexpected turns of phrase, Aurora Mattia's take on the transfeminine confessional is unlike any I've read in recent memory."—Harron Walker
"The Fifth Wound is the tender scar of beauty achieved in language. Drawing on rich description, myth, bible stories, autofiction, breathy pillow talk, and breathless confession, it confects a mirror of glamor for the glamor of its author, but which is then delicately rendered onto the page, as a diptych, that the reader might gasp with pleasure. It’s a special kind of transsexual camp, so over the top that what was the top is too far below to see, and we fly free."—McKenzie Wark
"This is a densely embroidered autofictional mythography, a surreal book of hours complete with self-flagellation, a Homeric urban odyssey, ecstatic and violent, tender, devastating, and triumphant, and a hallucinogenic yet visceral medical memoir. Mattia peels layer upon layer, cuts again and again, deep into the wound to spill the life inside."—Sarah Gerard
"Bold, lush, innovative, and extraordinary, Mattia’s work daringly reimagines the very nature of storytelling. I’ve never read anything like The Fifth Wound—and I’ll never forget it.”—Téa Obreht
"If Gertrude Stein had a child with Virginia Woolf, they would produce an exquisite comma/semi-colon named Aurora Mattia. In Mattia’s highly magnetic & hyperconscious world of say boudoir shadows, sugarglass, operating tables, transsexuality, auroral wounds, strident malefic forces, a sentence, a paragraph, an entire chapter does bleed; and, it bleeds hyperchromatically, hyperphilosophically, hyperinventively, and hyper-nonbinarily from The Fifth Wound’s 'mouth, genitals, genitals, pores, eyes, ass, and nose' into her body’s impeccable sheath.”—Vi Khi Nao
"Reading The Fifth Wound is like being initiated into a gorgeous, femme mystery school. Her prose is simultaneously antique and so, so contemporary; I felt folded into worlds I didn’t want to leave, worlds marked by longing and corporality, magic and power. Hypnotic and bold.”—Michelle Tea