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Lydia Millet - book author

Lydia Millet has written twelve works of fiction. She has won awards from PEN Center USA and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and her books have been longlisted for the National Book Award, shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and named as New York Times Notable Books. Her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.

Lydia Millet is the author of books: A Children's Bible, Mermaids in Paradise, Sweet Lamb of Heaven, Love in Infant Monkeys, How the Dead Dream, Fight No More: Stories, Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Magnificence, My Happy Life, Ghost Lights

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01
Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel—her first since the National Book Award–longlisted Sweet Lamb of Heaven—follows a group of eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their parents at a lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their elders, who pass their days in a hedonistic stupor, the children are driven out into a chaotic landscape after a great storm descends on the summer estate. The story’s narrator, Eve, devotes herself to the safety of her beloved little brother as events around them begin to mimic scenes from his cherished picture Bible.


Millet, praised as “unnervingly talented” (San Francisco Chronicle), has produced a heartbreaking story of the legacy of climate change denial. Her parable of the coming generational divide offers a lucid vision of what awaits us on the other side of Revelation.
02
On the grounds of a Caribbean island resort, newlyweds Deb and Chip—our opinionated, skeptical narrator and her cheerful jock husband who's friendly to a fault—meet a marine biologist who says she's sighted mermaids in a coral reef.
As the resort's "parent company" swoops in to corner the market on mythological creatures, the couple joins forces with other adventurous souls, including an ex–Navy SEAL with a love of explosives and a hipster Tokyo VJ, to save said mermaids from the "Venture of Marvels," which wants to turn their reef into a theme park.


Mermaids in Paradise is Lydia Millet's funniest book yet, tempering the sharp satire of her early career with the empathy and subtlety of her more recent novels and short stories. This is an unforgettable, mesmerizing tale, darkly comic on the surface and illuminating in its depths.
03
Blending domestic thriller and psychological horror, this compelling page-turner follows a mother fleeing her estranged husband.

Lydia Millet’s chilling new novel is the first-person account of a young mother, Anna, escaping her cold and unfaithful husband, a businessman who’s just launched his first campaign for political office. When Ned chases Anna and their six-year-old daughter from Alaska to Maine, the two go into hiding in a run-down motel on the coast. But the longer they stay, the less the guests in the dingy motel look like typical tourists—and the less Ned resembles a typical candidate. As his pursuit of Anna and their child moves from threatening to criminal, Ned begins to alter his wife’s world in ways she never could have imagined.

A double-edged and satisfying story with a strong female protagonist, a thrilling plot, and a creeping sense of the apocalyptic, Sweet Lamb of Heaven builds to a shattering ending with profound implications for its characters—and for all of us.
04
Lions, rabbits, monkeys, pheasants—all have shared the spotlight and tabloid headlines with famous men and women. Sharon Stone’s husband’s run-in with a Komodo dragon, Thomas Edison’s filming of an elephant’s electrocution and David Hasselhoff’s dogwalker all find a home in Love in Infant Monkeys. At the rare intersections of wilderness and celebrity, Lydia Millet hilariously tweaks these unholy communions to run a stake through the heart of our fascination with pop icons and the culture of human self-worship.

In much fiction, animals exist as author stand-ins—or even more reductively as symbols of good and evil. In Millet’s ruthless, lucid prose—each story based on a news item, biography, or other fact-based account of a celebrity-animal relationship—animals are as complex and rich as our imaginings of them. In these spiraling fictional riffs and flounces on real life, animals show up their humans as bloated with foolishness and yet curiously vulnerable—as in a tour-de-force, Kabbalah-infused interior monologue by Madonna after she shoots a pheasant on her English estate.
05
As a wealthy, young real-estate developer in Los Angeles, T. lives an isolated life. He has always kept his distance from people — from his doting mother to his crass fraternity brothers — but remains unaware of his loneliness until one night, while driving to Las Vegas, he hits a coyote on the highway. The experience unnerves him and inspires a transformation that leads T. to question his business pursuits for the first time in his life, to take a chance at falling in love, and finally to begin breaking into zoos across the country, where he finds solace in the presence of animals on the brink of extinction.

A beautiful, heart-wrenching tale, How the Dead Dream is also a riveting commentary on individualism and community in the modern social landscape and how the lives of people and animals are deeply entwined. Judged by many-- including the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post Book World-- to be Millet's best work to date, it is, as Time Out New York perfectly states: "This beautiful writer’s most ambitious novel yet, a captivating balancing act between full-bodied satire and bighearted insight."
06
This wonderfully original collection proves once again that Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet is “the American writer with the funniest, wisest grasp on how we fool ourselves” (Chicago Tribune). In Fight No More, Nina, a lonely real-estate broker estranged from her only relative, is at the center of a web of stories connecting a community through the houses they inhabit. With crackling satire and surprising tenderness, Millet introduces an indelible cast of untidy teens, beastly men, and strong-minded women whose stories begin to outline the fate of one particular family being torn apart by forces they recognize but cannot control. Millet’s intellect and beautiful prose deliver profound insight into human behavior, from the ordinary to the bizarre, and draws startling contrasts between house and home.
07
Oppenheimer's first full day at the motel was devoted to television. He located the remote on the bedside table, where it sat beside the enigmatic telephone with its sheet of intricate numeric instructions, and eventually by pressing the button marked power discovered its function. -from OH PURE AND RADIANT HEART

In Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, the three dead geniuses who invented the atomic bomb-Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and Enrico Fermi-mysteriously appear in Sante Fe, New Mexico, in 2003, nearly sixty years after they watched history's first mushroom cloud rise over the New Mexico desert in 1945. One by one, they are discovered by a shy librarian, who takes them in and devotes herself to them.

Faced with the evidence of their nuclear legacy, the scientists embark on a global disarmament campaign that takes them from Hiroshima to Nevada to the United Nations. Along the way, they acquire a billionaire pothead benefactor and a growing convoy of RVs carrying groupies, drifters, activists, former Deadheads, New Age freeloaders, and religious fanatics.

In this heroically mischievous, sweeping tour de force, Lydia Millet brings us an apocalyptic fable that marries the personal to the political, confronts the longing for immortality with the desire for redemption, and evokes both the beauty and the tragedy of the nuclear sublime.
08
Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet is "one of the most acclaimed novelists of her generation" (Scott Timberg, Los Angeles Times). Salon praised her for writing that is "always flawlessly beautiful, reaching for an experience that precedes language itself." The Village Voice added, "If Kurt Vonnegut were still alive, he would be extremely jealous."
This stunning new novel presents Susan Lindley, a woman adrift after her husband’s death and the dissolution of her family. Embarking on a new phase in her life after inheriting her uncle’s sprawling mansion and its vast collection of taxidermy, Susan decides to restore the neglected, moth-eaten animal mounts, tending to “the fur and feathers, the beaks, the bones and shimmering tails.” Meanwhile an equally derelict human menagerie—including an unfaithful husband and a chorus of eccentric old women—joins her in residence.


In a setting both wondrous and absurd, Susan defends her legacy from freeloading relatives and explores the mansion’s unknown spaces. Funny and heartbreaking, Magnificence explores evolution and extinction, children and parenthood, loss and revelation. The result is the rapturous final act to the critically acclaimed cycle of novels that began with How the Dead Dream.
09
A simple woman looks back on her harsh life with extraordinary insight and unexpected joy

At the opening of My Happy Life, the unnamed narrator of this bittersweet fictional memoir has been abandoned in a locked room of a defunct hospital for the mentally ill. She hasn't seen the nice man who brings her food in days; she's eaten the soap and the toothpaste; she tried to eat the plaster on her walls, a dietary adventure that ended none too well. And yet, curiously, the narrator is happy. Despite a lifetime of neglect, physical abuse, and loss, she's incapable of perceiving slight or injury. She has infinite faith in the goodwill of others, loves even her enemies, and finds grace and communion in places most people wouldn't dare to look. By stepping outside her meager circumstances, she's able to live each moment as though it were her last-with gratitude, longing, and delight.

Readers will be unable to put down Lydia Millet's impressive, original foray into serious literary fiction.
10
Ghost Lights stars an IRS bureaucrat named Hal—a man baffled by his wife’s obsession with her missing employer. In a moment of drunken heroism, Hal embarks on a quest to find the man, embroiling himself in a surreal tropical adventure (and an unexpected affair with a beguiling German woman). Ghost Lights is Lydia Millet at her best—beautifully written, engaging, full of insight into the heartbreaking devotion of parenthood and the charismatic oddity of human behavior.