Coming March 31, 2015 from Picador

Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers On The Decision Not To Have Kids

One of the main topics of cultural conversation during the last decade was the supposed “fertility crisis,” and whether modern women could figure out a way to way to have it all—a successful, demanding career and the required 2.3 children—before their biological clock stopped ticking. Now, however, conversation has turned to whether it’s necessary to have it all (see Anne-Marie Slaughter) or, perhaps more controversial, whether children are really a requirement for a fulfilling life. The idea that some women and men prefer not to have children is often met with sharp criticism and incredulity by the public and mainstream media.

In this provocative and controversial collection of essays, curated by writer Meghan Daum, sixteen acclaimed writers explain why they have chosen to eschew parenthood. Contributors include Lionel Shriver, Sigrid Nunez, Kate Christiensen, Elliott Holt, Geoff Dyer, and Tim Kreider, among others, who will give a unique perspective on the overwhelming cultural pressure of parenthood.

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed makes a thoughtful and passionate case for why parenthood is not the only path in life, taking our parent-centric, kid-fixated, baby-bump-patrolling culture to task in the process. What emerges is a more nuanced, diverse view of what it means to live a full, satisfying life.


Kate Christensen  Geoff Dyer  Danielle Henderson  Courtney Hodell  Anna Holmes  Elliott Holt  Pam Houston  Michelle Huneven  Laura Kipnis  Tim Kreider  Paul Lisicky  M.G. Lord  Rosemary Mahoney  Sigrid Nunez  Jeanne Safer  Lionel Shriver



Advance Praise

"To her illustrious list of literary accomplishments, Meghan Daum must now add brilliant anthology editor.  In this thoughtful, hilarious, gorgeously-written collection of original essays by anything-but-the-usual-suspects, Daum has taken a taboo subject and turned it inside out so that we see the seams, the stitching, and the bloody guts of one of the most personal and complex decisions any of us can ever make.  This is a wonderful book.” — Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing and Devotion

"I've never needed approval for my decision to go childless through this world, but there've been times when I wanted company, a sounding board, a friend who wouldn't take the wrong way my desire to be occasionally ecstatic about not having babies and all the opportunities it affords me. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed is all that and more. It's sweet, heartfelt...utterly (and by design) the opposite of its title. It's a triumph of honesty and sincerity. I imagine returning again and again to its many smart and caring voices." — Hannah Pittard, author of Reunion and The Fates Will Find Their Way

"A taboo will linger until someone writes lyrically enough to destroy it. Here, sixteen writers finally say what women are never supposed to but what we all know is true: pregnancy seems terrifying, birth even more so, baby lust passes, and, just as with men, work, creativity, and love affairs can crowd out everything else. Also, who really cares about getting a Mother’s Day card? My three children are of course perfect in every way and yet, the longer I am a mother, the more it’s obvious to me that it’s not for everyone. Any woman who shares that instinct: Ignore your grandmother. Read this instead." — Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women

"Put aside your moralistic assumptions . The sixteen probing personal essays collected here  show how deeply individual– and varied, and rich, and colorful  – are the paths by which  people arrive at the decision to not have children.  This has to be one of the best of the many anthologies about women’s (and men’s) life stages – there’s a lot at stake here for the writers, and for readers as well." — Katha Pollitt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights