Reading Natalka Burian’s words is like suddenly seeing the world in technicolor after a lifetime of black and white. Each scene is fully seen, heard, tasted, experienced, from the moment Welcome to the Slipstream’s protagonist arrives in Las Vegas: “The blurred glow of the strip swam up out of the darkness like a living thing. The road we drove on circled the galaxy of neon lights at a distance, and the colors—electric pinks and golds and blues—all bled into one another as we sped by. Bright turrets and the blinking eye at a pyramid’s peak climbed out of the darkness like giant beanstalks. And around all of this light, nothing, just an expanse of complete darkness.”
When Van arrives at the Silver Saddle casino with her mother—a brilliant businesswoman with fragile mental health—she learns that she’s been assigned a college student, Alex, to “babysit” her. Van is used to having to land on her feet—her mother and surrogate grandmother move from city to city all the time like corporate nomads—and is not thrilled to have someone watching her now.
But Van is a talented musician, and when Alex introduces her to an all-girl Sleater-Kinney-style band, she finally has a chance to let her guitar skills shine, and maybe even put down roots in one place. And then: just as she’s about to play her first gig, her mother is lured to Arizona to join a crystal-worshiping, scarf-knitting self-help cult, and Van must go on the road to find and save her.
Along the way, Van discovers family secrets, herself, and a home, while Burian portrays mental illness with striking sensitivity, herself knitting a story with strands both eerily dark and fiercely bright.
Natalka Burian received an MA from Columbia University where she studied Eastern European literature with an emphasis on the work of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. She is the co-owner of two bars, Elsa and Ramona, as well as City of Daughters, a line of specialty cocktail goods. Burian is also a founder of The Freya Project, a monthly fundraising series that donates money to small non-profits located in communities that do not embrace the vital work they perform. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.
Praise for Welcome to the Slipstream
At its heart, Welcome to the Slipstream is about what it truly means to save someone.”—Sandy Hall, author of A Little Something Different
Natalka Burian’s Van is a furious misfit, a genuine punk-rock genius, and quite possibly crazy. But I will read this book again and again . . . if it means I can keep listening to all the true things she has to say.”—Louisa Luna, author of Brave New Girl
Welcome to the Slipstream had me from the get-go. From the incredible cast of characters to Burian’s sharp prose, this debut novel was impossible to put down. Gorgeous and complicated, this is a book you won’t soon forget.”—Jessica Valenti, New York Times bestselling author of Sex Object: A Memoir
Readers … will be enthralled by Burian’s eerie depictions of the Sedona community and left pondering the deep emotional complexities of parent-child relationships.”—Kirkus Reviews
June 7th at Housing Works, with Julia Fierro, Rakesh Satyal, Hannah Tinti, and Chiwoniso Kaitano-Price at the Sackett Street Writers Workshop Literary Series
June 15th at Baltimore’s Ivy Bookshop
August 7th at Stories in Brooklyn, in conversation with Sonia Belasco
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