Harriet Alida Lye is the author of the novel The Honey Farm and the memoir Natural Killer. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Happy Reader, Hazlitt, Vice, Catapult, The New Statesman, and more. She founded the literary magazine Her Royal Majesty, which ran for six years and republished the first ever short story by Alice Munro. She lives in Toronto with her partner, their son, and two dogs.
Never have I read a more moving book on the fragile filament of life, the bond between people who love one another and struggle to find the words to express that love. The words are here, so wise and specific and drawn from the inward part. Harriet Alida Lye has no truck with fantasy or faith or folderol. She is a star witness to the bloom of life that surrounds death, and her work demands access to our unsentimental hearts.
—Michael Winter, author of Into the Blizzard
The writing in Natural Killer contains the strange whimsy only the voice of a survivor can have. Recounting her cancer, Lye recaptures the state of grace teenagers live in even in the darkest moments. She then brings us close to the absurdity and wonder of childbirth. In succinct and addictive and generous prose she details the perils and miracles of living in a human body, on the days when it is out to kill us and those when it is making a whole other life inside us. —Heather O’Neill, author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel and Lullabies for Little Criminals
Natural Killer is less a cancer memoir (though it is that) as a wise and heart-affirming reflection on the ties that bind us to one another: on motherhood but also daughterhood, control and surrender, and the body’s limit experiences. Harriet Alida Lye brilliantly weaves her materials together, from firsthand memories to medical records, scenes of the body ravaged and scenes of the body creating, in a truly original work of autobiography.
—Lauren Elkin, author of Flaneuse: Women Walk the City
Natural Killer is a breathtaking memoir full of clarity, courage, and wisdom. In opening up her transition from child to mother, Harriet Alida Lye shows how fear and love can become unifying forces in a body that both takes and gives life. This story will stay with me for a long time.
—Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal and The Bear
Gorgeous, brutal, a meteorite of a book. Natural Killer holds the sheer force and radical beauty of the miracle it depicts. Harriet Alida Lye was supposed to die at fifteen and did not. She then went on to become a mother. Looking into the dark centre of love, death and new life, Lye writes with the wisdom and measure of a young Didion. To read this memoir is to be changed by it.
—Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker and Stunt
What a rare thing to read a book that makes you pause in reflection on nearly every page. Natural Killer is a remarkable story of an inspiring family that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Alida Lye’s writing, intimate and subtle, asks profound questions about life, death, hope and trust that made me grateful to have spent time in her beautiful mind. This work, crafted so thoughtfully, will stay with me for a very long time.
—Ashley Audrain, author of The Push
Harriet Alida Lye takes the enormous cruelty of indiscriminate disease and creates something truly beautiful and deeply moving. A book about the terror of death that is brimming with the warmth and vibrancy of life.
—Stacey May Fowles, author of Baseball Life Advice
A gripping memoir, told in an honest unassuming way that is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time, and leaves you with renewed gratitude for life. I cried, I laughed, and I ached. The way Harriet weaves in her parents perspective gave me goosebumps as a mother. I read this book in one night!
—Samra Zafar, author of The Good Wife
In this generous book, Harriet Alida Lye opens up her life – and her body – to us. She guides us through the peaks and nadirs of human experience with her sensuous prose, her keen eye for the beauty that exists even in the terrible moments, and, above all, her boundless, fierce love.
—Anna Maxymiw, author of Dirty Work
Everything about this book is exceptional: the writing, the potency of its images, the portrayal of two lives linked across time, the writer herself. I cannot recommend this enough.
—Nafkote Tamirat, author of The Parking Lot Attendant