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Courtney Zoftness with Rita Bullwinkel and Mat Johnson

March 3, 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm PST

celebrating the publication of Courtney Zoftness’ new memoir

Spilt Milk

published by McSweeney’s


This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.


Event is free, but registration is required.

(Click Here) to register. (link to be posted soon)


(Click Here) to purchase book. (link to be posted soon)


What role does a mother play in raising thoughtful, generous children? In her literary debut, internationally award-winning writer Courtney Zoffness considers what we inherit from generations past—biologically, culturally, spiritually—and what we pass on to our children. Spilt Milk is an intimate, bracing, and beautiful exploration of vulnerability and culpability. Zoffness relives her childhood anxiety disorder as she witnesses it manifest in her firstborn; endures brazen sexual advances by a student in her class; grapples with the implications of her young son’s cop obsession; and challenges her Jewish faith. Where is the line between privacy and secrecy? How do the stories we tell inform who we become? These powerful, dynamic essays herald a vital new voice.

Courtney Zoffness won the 2018 Sunday Times Short Story Award, the most valuable international prize for short fiction, amid entries from 38 countries. She joins a winners list that includes Junot Díaz, Anthony Doerr, and Yiyun Li. (Read more about this here and here.) Other honors include an Emerging Writers Fellowship from the Center for Fiction, the Arts & Letters Creative Nonfiction Prize, a Bread Loaf Writers Conference scholarship, and two residency fellowships from MacDowell. Her writing has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including the Paris Review Daily, Longreads, The Southern Review, The Rumpus, and No Tokens, she had Notable essays in Best American Essays 2018 & 2019. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Rita Bullwinkel is the author of the story collection Belly Up, which won the 2018 Believer Book Award. Bullwinkel’s writing has been published in Tin House, The White Review, Conjunctions, BOMB, Vice, NOON, and Guernica. She is a recipient of grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, Hawthornden Castle, and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Both her fiction and translation have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. She is an Editor at Large for McSweeney’s and a Contributing Editor for NOON. She lives in San Francisco and teaches at the California College of the Arts.

Mat Johnson is the author of the novels Loving DayPymDrop, and Hunting in Harlem, the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot, and the comic books Incognegro and Dark Rain. He is a recipient of the American Book Award, the United States Artist James Baldwin FellowshipThe Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature. He is a Professor at the University of Oregon.

Praise for Spilt Milk:

“I don’t know what I love the most about Courtney Zoffness’s Spilt Milk. The taut originality of the prose? The acuity of its insights? The daring vulnerability? There is so much I want to say about Spilt Milk, but honestly they’re all variations of This is fucking brilliant. Whatever you think this book is, it’s more. A debut writer this talented and skilled is an event in itself.”
Mat Johnson, author of Pym

“Gentle, playful and laced with subtle wit, these essays are a welcome balm in an insane and un-gentle time.”
Mary Gaitskill, author of This is Pleasure and Bad Behavior

Spilt Milk contains the wisdom of a mother, the maturity of an older sister, and the wide-eyed wonder of a small child. It’s a magical gift of a collection.”
Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women

“In these ten musical, open-hearted essays, Courtney Zoffness establishes herself as one of our most soulful, clear-eyed narrators. A lucid dream of a book I wished would never end.”
Elisa Albert, author of After Birth

“Wry and masterful—Spilt Milk examines the multiplicities of self and culture, asking the tough questions with remarkable concision. Courtney Zoffness is a writer of supernatural acuity and wit.”
T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

“Courtney Zoffness beautifully captures the self-aware irony and absolute panic of being an anxious parent, illustrating how childhood terrors manifest later in life in ways that are both still childish, and still terrifying. This book is urgent and essential.”
Jesse Eisenberg, actor and author of Bream Gives me Hiccups and Other Stories

“Courtney Zoffness’s collection is written with a fierce and sometimes funny honesty. Zoffness explores motherhood and daughterhood, and how these early attachments make us and unmake us, how they connect us to others—until they are us.”
Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning

“These bright, knowing essays spill over with intelligence and wit. Courtney Zoffness traces the dizzying conflict faced by parents—the daily ricochet between burden and joy—and, with a sharply lyric voice, discovers hidden connections between this domestic struggle and the larger cultural and political winds shifting around us.”
Ben Marcus, author of Notes from the Fog

“On one level, Spilt Milk is an extraordinary exploration of the connections, small and large; real and imagined, between childhood and parenthood. On another level, it’s irrefutable proof that Courtney Zoffness is a wondrous calculus of a prose writer: keen, inventive, candid, open-hearted, not to mention one helluva stylist.”
Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math


March 3, 2021
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm PST
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City Lights Books