The Cure for Sleep

The Cure for Sleep - Credit Tanya Shadrick


“Those breaths after coma were posthumous: the me of my first thirty-three years – that girl, that woman, who had worked so steadily to keep herself hidden, safe and small – was dead. My new self was stripped bare and spreadeagled. Flayed too of consoling ideas about how life might be kept neat and tidy.” The Cure for Sleep


The Cure for Sleep will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson as a hardback, paperback, ebook and audio from February 2022.

About the book

Just days into motherhood, a woman begins dying. Fast and without warning.

On return from near-death – shaken awake by wild regret – Tanya Shadrick vows to stop sleepwalking through her life. To live with more courage, like the characters in the fairy tales she loved as a small girl, before loss and fear had her retreat into routine and daydreams.

Around the care of young children, she starts to play with the shape and scale of her days: to stray from the path, get lost in the woods, make bargains with strangers. As she moves beyond her respectable roles as worker, wife and mother in a small town, Tanya learns what it takes – and costs – to break the spell of longing for love, approval, safety, rescue.

The Cure for Sleep is a memoir with the quality of fable: inviting us, however late in life, to wake up and step out of the confines we have made for ourselves.

From The Bookseller

“W&N pre-empts ‘breathtaking’ memoir from Shadrick”

Lettice Franklin – who acquired the UK & Commonwealth rights in a pre-empt from agent Robert Caskie – said: ‘Tanya Shadrick’s prose intoxicated me from the moment I read it. Hers is an electrifying new voice and her book has the quality of a fable that teaches us how to live, how to step out of the confines we have made for ourselves, how to wake up. It reminds me of the very best memoirs – of Joan Didion’s autobiographical writing, of Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood and of Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am. I cannot wait to publish it.’

Tanya Shadrick, author said: ‘The Cure for Sleep is an exploration of unlived lives – mine, others’ – and what it takes to break the spell of longing for love, approval, rescue, ease. I grew up in a rural working-class family surrounded by people who, if they talked about the past at all, had only a few vivid memories of possibility. What mattered more was to avoid gossip, be respectable, stick to one’s own. It took my own sudden near-death to wake me up to risk, chance and connection. This is the story of what happened when I did. Lettice Franklin thrilled me with her editorial vision for the book, and it’s a privilege to be with W&N who have published so many of the authors I most admire.’

Robert Caskie, agent said: ‘Tanya has that very rare combination of stillness and energy.  Her stories captivated me instantly and her experimentation with style and genre impressed me greatly.  I am delighted to represent her and thrilled she has found such a perfect fit with Lettice and W&N. Now more than ever it is important to empower voice and enhance creativity.’

About the author

Tanya Shadrick is founder of The Selkie Press and editor of Wild Woman Swimming by Lynne Roper – a journal of west country waters longlisted for the 2019 Wainwright Prize. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, she is also a sought-after artist in residence who encourages creativity in others. In 2016 Tanya embarked on her Wild Patience Scrolls – a mile of writing composed outdoors, pen on paper, beside England’s oldest lido: an acclaimed work featured by BBC Radio 4 alongside art by the world-renowned sculptors David Nash (her mentor) and James Turrell. Her other residencies include time in Virginia Woolf’s garden on the Sussex Downs and at the prestigious Jan Michalski Foundation in Switzerland.