Beautiful and violent, spare and ominous, this wholly original novel explodes mythologies of Southern femininity.
In a multigenerational family saga that captures the rich beauty and passionate despair of the land and its inhabitants, The Pink Institution is a riveting, visceral novel written in a style that elegantly unites poetic prose with historic photographs and texts. It is also a testament to the legacy that war, violence, abuse, and poverty have wrought upon the Deep South. As we follow four generations of determined and relentless Mississippi women from their run-down, post-Civil War plantations to their modern-day trailer parks, the impoverished decay of the Deep South expresses itself through their bloodlines in a haunting reenactment of the past.
“Saterstrom writes with a poet’s economy and eye for visceral detail, collapsing into a mere 140 pages a four-generation history of a Southern family bedeviled by alcoholism, poverty, racism, violence, and mental illness. Her spareness is a mercy. The story she tells is brutal, almost impossible to take; at the same time, her exquisite, cut-to-the-quick language makes this book impossible to put down.” —The Huffington Post, included in “11 Underappreciated Literary Masterpieces”
“Happy families may all be alike, but even unhappy families have started to look pretty similar these days. Then there’s the family created in Selah Saterstrom’s multigenerational bildungsroman about America and the South, and women and men, and madness and whatever desperate things we do in order to, maybe, for a while, survive. Selah Saterstrom has a daring, artful voice. I am confident The Pink Institution is only the first of many astoundingly beautiful, brutally disturbing works of art.” —Rebecca Brown
“The Pink Institution is a book to be savored like a feast in the middle of nowhere—rich, strange, fragmentary and yet utterly compelling. Selah Saterstrom has managed to gather influences from visual art, photography, music, captions, footnotes, directories, family histories and weave them into a book of marvels and mysteries. Reader, go slow. This is a dream.” —Michael Klein