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Sex with a Brain Injury

On Concussion and Recovery


About The Book

For readers of Meghan O’Rourke’s The Invisible Kingdom, Esme Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias, and Melissa Febos’s Girlhood, a powerful and deeply personal memoir in essays that sheds light on the silent epidemic of head trauma.

Annie Liontas suffered multiple concussions in her thirties. In Sex with a Brain Injury, she writes about what it means to be one of the “walking wounded,” facing her fear, her rage, her physical suffering, and the effects of head trauma on her marriage and other relationships. Forced to reckon with her own queer mother’s battle with addiction, Liontas finds echoes in their pain. Liontas weaves history, philosophy, and personal accounts to interrogate and expand representations of mental health, ability, and disability—particularly in relation to women and the LGBT community. She uncovers the surprising legacy of brain injury, examining its role in culture, the criminal justice system, and through historical figures like Henry VIII and Harriet Tubman. Encountering Liontas’s sharp, affecting prose, the reader can imagine this kind of pain, and having to claw one’s way back to a new normal. The hidden gift of injury, Liontas writes, is the ability to connect with others.

For the millions of people who have suffered from concussions and for those who have endeavored to support loved ones through the painful and often baffling experience of head trauma, this astonishing and compassionate narrative offers insight and hope in equal measure.

About The Author

Photo Courtesy of the Author

Annie Liontas is the author of the novel Let Me Explain You and the coeditor of A Manner of Being: Writers on their Mentors. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, NPR, Gay Magazine, Electric Literature, BOMB, The Believer, Guernica, McSweeney’s, and other publications. A graduate of Syracuse University’s MFA program, she is a professor of writing at George Washington University. Annie has served as a mentor for Pen City’s incarcerated writers and helped secure a Mellon Foundation grant on Disability Justice to bring storytelling to communities in the criminal justice system. She lives in Philadelphia.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (January 16, 2024)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668015544

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Raves and Reviews

“This is an infuriatingly gorgeous, important book and Liontas is a singular writer.” —Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties

“I’m in awe of Annie Liontas’s SEX WITH A BRAIN INJURY for a hundred reasons, not the least of which is its resistance to abstract language, which is another way to say its commitment to writing through the immediacy of sinew, nerve, blood, and bone. On top of that it's funny, tender, hopeful, and disarmingly intimate with a charisma so bright it leaves sparks flying in its wake. In short, a classic.”
—Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World

“Sex with a Brain Injury succeeds in extraordinary, unfamiliar ways. Memories are rendered like snapshots—vivid, sharply and wonderfully strange, full of voids; pieced together, they form a tapestry of questions: what does true intimacy look like? What are the margins of illness, and how, too, is illness spacious, illuminating? With the chorus of other writers, scholars, and myriad artistic sources, Annie Liontas turns these questions over like a stone in their hand; multi-faceted, full of nuance, dazzling. Delightfully weaving humor with horror, Liontas brilliantly articulates what it is like to reach for cohesion, linearity, sense, and how it feels to do so with pleasure. An unforgettable read.” —T Kira Mahealani Madden

“A most extraordinary lesson in compassion... Annie Liontas has captured the truths known mostly to survivors of brain injury. Hers is a visceral, bracing account of the aftermath of injury and the war she fought to make meaning of suffering and reclaim her life. People with any manner of invisible health conditions will see themselves in and through Annie’s writing; people who have been dismissed, discounted, or degraded by the systems of care that should have offered relief. A celebration of the complexities of vulnerability, this book is required reading for everyone with a brain, injured or otherwise. A triumph.” —Dr. Kim Gorgens, neuropsychologist & TED Speaker

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