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Grandmother Divided by Monkey Equals Outer Space

by Nora Chassler

‘She could not see how she was naïve: what didn’t she know? What exactly didn’t she know?’

New York City, 1982. The Martians – Carrie, Eli, their mother Viv and her teenage boyfriend, Arnie – live in a one- bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side. Viv smokes marijuana continually, laying out her bizarre version of reality to anyone who will listen. Eleven year-old Carrie’s budding OCD manifests in attention to detail at the expense of the big picture. Her angry older brother Eli just wants to make it to a showing of The Shining that isn’t sold out.

Around the corner – ‘above the smaller dry cleaners’ – the psychic Miss Rosa’s neon rose glows above the street. Keener on recounting the past than predicting the future, Miss Rosa (a.k.a. Phoebe Curtis) befriends the Martians one by one, and shares a part of her story with each of them – a story that resonates disturbingly with their own lives. But the Martians have other things to worry about: can Carrie afford a Red Devil costume for the Halloween parade? Who really has the longest fry? And how will Viv buy pot and pay the rent?

“Nora Chassler’s extraordinary Grandmother Divided by Monkey Equals Outer Space breaks all moulds ... it is a triumphant vindication of the edgy, eccentric demotic as a compelling narrative voice.”
— William Boyd, The Guardian

“Somewhere between Nabokov and Bret Easton Ellis ... Chassler’s characters elicit real emotion. Their stories grip you to the last and leave you wanting more.”
— Chris Dolan, The Herald

“I keep recommending this book to you and you still haven't read it. Just do it. It's my favourite New York novel. EVERY SENTENCE IS INTERESTING.”
— Rónán Hession


Nora Chassler was born in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1972, and grew up in New York City. She has an undergraduate degree in English from Hunter College, CUNY, in New York, and a Masters in Creative Writing from St Andrews. She has worked as a model and a social worker. She lives in Edinburgh.

Her first novel, Miss Thing, was published by Two Ravens Press in 2010. Her second, Grandmother Divided by Monkey Equals Outer Space, was published by Valley Press in 2015. A collection of ‘fragments, pensées and table-talk’ titled Madame Bildungsroman’s Optimistic Worldview followed in 2017, and an epic poem, The Minnow Would Be Lost, in October 2020.


Edition: Paperback

Date Published: 2015-03-20

ISBN: 9781908853455

Catalogue Number: VP0065

Number of Pages: 160

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

Cover illustration by Megan Burt, based on a photograph by Steven Siegel

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