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Inseparable by Emma Donoghue

Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature (New York: Knopf, 2010; Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2010; paperback LA: Cleis, 2011). A dozen years in the making, Inseparable is a witty and scholarly guide to storylines of passion between women in Western (English, but also a lot of French, Italian, German, Spanish) literature since medieval times.  The American Library Association awarded it the Stonewall Non-Fiction (Israel Fishman) Prize and it was shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Non-Fiction.

A personal note: Inseparable is the book that nearly wasn’t, because while I was writing it part-time, from the late 90s to the late 2000s, the field of lesbian literary studies kept – wonderfully - growing up. At one point I feared that the project – provisionally entitled Lesbian Plots - would fall between two stools, being neither the kind of specialist, theoretically sophisticated study that appeals to university presses, nor what could be called general-interest nonfiction.  The legendary Vicky Wilson at Knopf saved Inseparable by aiming with high ambition for the latter category, insisting I carve away every sentence that smacked of dry academe, and educate readers of all stripes about lesbian themes in literature while entertaining them at the same time. Inseparable is probably my farewell to lesbian studies, so I’m all the more delighted that I finally brought it into the world.


To buy Inseparable

In the US, paperback:  http://www.cleispress.com/gosearch.php?textfield=inseparable&search_type=TITLE

In the UK/Ireland/Australia, ebook: http://www.panmacmillan.com/book/emmadonoghue/inseparable?format=978144724817001




‘Happily, Donoghue is a critic who doesn’t fear slumming in the land of potboilers… Donoghue’s adroit commentary, along with her chronologically organized bibliography, makes Inseparable necessary for scholars and enlightening and often amusing for anyone else.’ – New York Times Book Review

‘A thorough and fascinating piece of criticism, as satisfying as her fiction’ – Now (Toronto)

‘Meticulously, even painstakingly researched… an expert and innovative analysis… chock full of interesting information, a needed footnote to the history of Western literature.’ – Toronto Sun

‘A highly enjoyable romp through literary history that reads like good journalism rather than academic textbook… Donoghue’s great skill is that she remains totally focused on her six plots through an amazingly broad time period… It has the dizzying effect of bringing something that’s always been in our shared peripheral vision – hazy and intangible until now – sharply into focus.’ – Xtra (Toronto)

‘A thorough, intelligent researcher… a disarming, often funny historian.’ – San Francisco Chronicle

‘Emma Donoghue’s pedigree as a literary critic, novelist, scholar, and (it should go without saying) passionate reader makes her the perfect tour guide. Equally at home with Ovid and Rita Mae Brown, she is generous with her insights, providing helpful context… Brilliant, insightful, and frequently funny, Inseparable is sure to bring new readers to the world of classic literature.’ – The Gay and Lesbian Book Review

‘Thorough, scholarly and consistently entertaining’ – Booklist

‘Indispensable’ – Library Journal



Karen Scechner, ‘Endless Immersion: Emma Donoghue’, http://www.lambdaliterary.org/interviews/02/24/emma-donoghue/

Alice Lawlor, ‘Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature: Emma Donoghue examines top story arcs in labour of love’, Xtra (Toronto), 30 June 2010,

Kathryn Harrison, ‘From Sappho to ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’,’ New York Times Book Review, 20 May 2010

M. M. Adjarian, ‘Inseparable: Desire Between Women In Literature’, Edge, 11 June 2010

Inseparable by Emma Donoghue