2004 National Book Award Finalist: Fiction

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

Madeleine Is Sleeping

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

About the Book

Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, this novel follows the real and surreal adventures of a girl from a small French village who falls into an unexpected triangle of desire and love.

About the Author

This is Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's first novel. Her short fiction has appeared in the Georgia Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Best American Short Stories of 2004. A graduate of Brown University and the Iowa Writers Workshop, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.


From Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's novel MADELEINE IS SLEEPING provided courtesy of Harcourt Trade Publishers


Once, as Matilde made her way through the falling fat, she was startled by a peculiar but not unpleasant throb, which originated in her left shoulder but soon traveled clockwise to the three other corners of her broad back. She wondered if the children were now hurling soup bones, and made an effort to move more swiftly, but suddenly the joyous barrage slowed to a halt. The children stood absolutely still, lips parted, yellow butter dripping onto their shoes. They stared at her with a curiosity Matilde did not recognize.

Hearing a restless fluttering behind her, she twisted about and glimpsed the frayed edges of an iridescent wing. With great caution, she flexed her meaty shoulder blades and to her delight, the wing flapped gaily in response. Matilde had, indeed, fledged two pairs of flimsy wings, the lower pair, folded sleekly about the base of her spine, serving as auxiliary to the grander ones above.

Author photo credit: Leigh Dana Jackson