Titles 2019-

All the Fierce Tethers, Lia Purpura


Pre-order only. Available April 2019.

A trailblazer of the contemporary essay, Purpura meditates on existential subjects as diverse as eagles, irony, shadows, racially-divided neighborhoods, and the idea of beauty.

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Lia Purpura is the author of eight collections of essays, poems, and translations. On Looking (essays, Sarabande Books) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her awards include Guggenheim, NEA, and Fulbright Fellowships, as well as four Pushcart Prizes, the Associated Writing Programs Award in Creative Nonfiction, and others. Her work appears in The New YorkerThe New Republic, OrionThe Paris ReviewThe Georgia ReviewAgni, and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore, MD. 


"[Lia Purpura] evinces great skill as a prose writer in this volume of meditations on nature and society. . . . Amid the numerous essay collections driven by concern over climate change, Purpura’s stands out for its passionate intensity."

Publishers Weekly

"'Metaphors get compromised. Get eroded and need updating. Rerouting. Reconstituting,' writes Lia Purpura. This is just one of the luminous themes mined in her glittering new essay collection All the Fierce Tethers. In prose that is inventive, with ideas that contract and dilate with fluidity, Purpura considers the mundane and crafts powerful essays that traverse the landscapes that surround us."

Foreword Reviews, starred review

“Reading this collection of essays is like taking a walk through your neighborhood with a wizard or a medieval saint: Lia Purpura can conjure visions from seed pods, a plastic bag, a city sidewalk, transforming what is right in front of you into what is really there, uncommon, untamed.  Under her gaze, the most ordinary things become not just extraordinary, but almost frighteningly radiant.  To watch her free, say, a flowering crape myrtle from ‘tree’ and let it burst into experience is to behold reverence at its most ferocious, precise and delicate.”

—Suzanne Berne, author of The Dogs of Littlefield

“In Lia Purpura’s work, language is a renewable resource that keeps on giving, restoring wonder to a world of wounds. She is a meditative writer and in her, the life of the mind and senses abide in conjugal bliss. What holds us to this troubled life? A beautiful, associative mind attentive to small gestures, wending its way through our age of contradiction, finding solace and reckoning in language. That’s what.” 

—Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit

“Lia Purpura writes not just for our perilous moment, but for our dead, and the world that will outlast us. Her eye beholds animals and humans with awe, but the awe is never easy or borrowed or impressed with itself. ‘The world offers us to ourselves at every turn,’ writes Purpura, and though that sounds like a gift at first, it actually comes as a cautionary note. Only a writer of rigor and depth could turn such a shining statement on its head—and still manage to delight. All the Fierce Tethers is a phenomenal achievement of art and mind, but it's more than that, really: it will make you feel alive.” 

—Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship

 “Lia Purpura’s essays make the tethers between apparently separate things not only visible, but luminous.  Frankly, I can think of no better—by which I mean, adamantly, more necessary—quality in art. We are connected to the guy across the way ashing his cigarette. We are connected to the hawk at the dump, the murdered student, the fire ant, each other.  And to do it with so much goddamn music! Time and again I found myself re-reading sentences and paragraphs throughout these essays wondering how I arrived where I did. Astonished, and grateful for it. These are some of the best essays I’ve read in a long time.”

—Ross Gay, author The Book of Delights, Essays



“Purpura puts readers into a state of aesthetic arrest, as well as surprise, discomfort, and, meditative pleasure.”

—Donna Seaman, Booklist