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Barbara by Joni Murphy

Barbara by Joni Murphy


Literary Fiction
Publication Date: March 4, 2025
5.25 x 8 inches
250 pages
Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781771669252

Trade Paperback

From the author of Double Teenage and Talking Animals comes an intimate portrait of a woman losing and finding her identity through the business and art of movie making.

Barbara is born just before World War II to a tragically beautiful mother and a father who becomes an engineer in the famous Manhattan Project. When Barbara is thirteen, her mother commits suicide. These realities of war and personal loss shape her consciousness going forward.

She grows up to become an actress, restlessly travelling the world between film sets and love affairs, from the Bronx to Athens, the Alps to the Rocky Mountains. Navigating decades and genres, Barbara moves from austere 1950s kitchen sink dramas to countercultural 1970s gothics. She takes on and sheds many roles, temporarily becoming a vampire’s victim and a stylish mistress, a martyred saint and a bored housewife. She enjoys clandestine sexual encounters and endures an illegal abortion; she marries, divorces, and remarries, the second time to a visionary director who proves to be her great love.

An intense, layered distillation of a zeitgeist, Joni Murphy’s latest novel whispers tales of independent cinema and grimy show business, militarism and physics, bomb making and image consumption. It is a study of the mirroring and splitting between old and new worlds, inner sensations, and outward performance. Ultimately, Barbara unspools a delicate yet propulsive tale of a woman grasping for a meaningful life amid the reflective, broken shards of the long 20th century.

About the Author

JONI MURPHY was born in New Mexico lives in New York. Her debut novel, Double Teenage, was named one of The Globe and Mail‘s 100 Best Books of 2016. Her second novel, Talking Animals, was published in 2020.