Do You Remember Being Born?: A Novel (Hardcover)

Do You Remember Being Born?: A Novel By Sean Michaels Cover Image
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A Best Book of 2023 - Marie Claire, Inside Hook, Our Culture Magazine, WIRED

"[A] timely and lovely new novel." —Lincoln Michel, The New York Times Book Review

"A compassionate and lyrical portrait . . . Do You Remember Being Born? far outshines its peers." —Terry Nguyen, Boston Review

"Sean Michaels has already written the definitive novel about art in the age of AI." —Kate Knibbs, WIRED

Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels’s moving, innovative and deeply felt novel about an aging poet who agrees to collaborate with a Big Tech company’s poetry AI, named Charlotte


Marian Ffarmer is a world-renowned poet and a legend in the making—but only now, at 75 years old, is she beginning to believe in the security of her successes. Unfortunately, a poet’s accomplishments don’t necessarily translate to capital, and as her adult son struggles to buy his first home, her confidence in her choices begins to fray. Marian’s pristine life of mind—for which she’s sacrificed nearly all personal relationships, from romance to friendship to motherhood—has come at a cost.
 
Then comes a cryptic invitation from the Tech Company. Come to California, the invitation beckons, and write with a machine. The Company’s lucrative offer—for Marian to co-author a poem in a ‘historic partnership’ with their cutting-edge poetry bot, named Charlotte—chafes at everything she believes about artmaking as an individual pursuit . . . yet, it’s a second chance she can’t resist. And so to California she goes, a sell-out and a skeptic, for an encounter that will unsettle her life, her work and even her understanding of kinship.
 
Both a love letter to and interrogation of the nature of language, art, labor, capital, family, and community, Do You Remember Being Born? is Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels’s empathetic response to some of the most disquieting questions of our time—a defiant and joyful recognition that if we’re to survive meaningfully at all, creative legacy is to be reimagined and belonging to one’s art must mean, above all else, belonging to the world.

About the Author


Sean Michaels is a novelist, short story writer and critic. He is the founder of pioneering music blog Said the Gramophone. His debut novel, Us Conductors, received the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His second novel, The Wagers, appeared in 2019.

Praise For…


"A charming and refreshingly non-dystopian meditation on the duality of literary creation.”
A.O. Scott, New York Times

"[A] timely and lovely new novel . . . So-called 'artificial intelligence' is a hot-button issue, with daily claims about its potential to usher in utopia or destroy human civilization itself. It’s a loud topic, but Michaels’s novel is quiet and thoughtful. Instead of a cliché 'man versus machine' struggle, Do You Remember Being Born? is an investigation of language and legacies both artistic and familial . . . Michaels has a poet’s eye for detail and ear for fresh phrasing . . . No matter your stance on A.I., Do You Remember Being Born? is a tender and moving character portrait full of sharp scenes and memorable observations. While the novel might have a timely premise, it’s a jumping-off point for timeless meditations on art, family, connection and the meaning of a life. These topics will always speak to us, at least until we’re replaced by the machines."
Lincoln Michel, The New York Times Book Review

"Canadian novelist and music critic Sean Michaels has already written the definitive novel about art in the age of AI, one that incorporates machine-generated phrases and sentences in an unexpectedly moving way . . . A novel about the value of writing must clear a very high stylistic bar to succeed, and Michaels produces some of the most beautiful sentences published this year."
WIRED Best Book of the Year

"I was completely blown away by how much I loved this book. I was extremely skeptical that authors are going to find ways to incorporate AI into their writing that [aren't] extremely cringey or hokey, and Michaels managed to craft a beautiful book that I cannot recommend highly enough. I think now that he's done it, no one else should bother . . . Somehow he managed to make an absolutely marvelous novel that incorporates AI-generated text."
Kate Knibbs on WIRED's Gadget Lab

"How could I not read this? Michaels is a beautiful writer and this exploration of art in the age of AI is also a story about what it means to be a parent, and flawed."
Hilary Zaid, author of Forget I Told You This

"An absorbing and fascinating read."
Catherine Jarvie, Marie Claire (UK) Best Book of the Year

"Michaels rarely goes where you expect . . . [Do You Remember Being Born? has] a disorienting and engaging energy."
Tobias Carroll, InsideHook Best Book of 2023

"Thoughtful, speculative, and human . . . [Michaels's] third novel is an insightful and optimistic deep-dive into a sector of innovation that’s sure to remain relevant for years to come."
Sam Franzini, Our Culture Best Book of 2023

"A compassionate and lyrical portrait of an artist whose craft is 'threatened' by emerging technology, the novel is an artfully constructed story about the sacrifices of making art, artistic collaboration, and the nature of motherhood . . . Do You Remember Being Born? far outshines its peers . . . The prose is exceptional."
Terry Nguyen, Boston Review

"Sean Michaels has a penchant for big ideas, and his latest novel might just feature his most high-concept work yet . . . Think Spike Jonze’s Her by way of W.G. Sebald, maybe; all told, Do You Remember Being Born? is a sharp meditation on art and technology—and so much more."
Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"An intriguing novel, exploring the human, corporate, and now technological sides to art and creative work in general, with Michaels managing to avoid being too heavy-handed about any of them."
M.A. Orthofer, Complete Review

"Rich and innovative, Do You Remember Being Born? is a novel about the uneasy relationship between art, artmakers, and AI."
Camille-Yvette Welsch, Foreword

"A timely work reminiscent of Richard Powers’ Galatea 2.2 (1995), Michaels' tale shows how AI can, paradoxically, stymie creation through its limitlessness and need for human guidance. This is also a compelling portrait of a tricorne-wearing poet famously dedicated to her craft."
Alexander Moran, Booklist

"Michaels merges modernist poetry with contemporary technology in this inventive outing . . . [Do You Remember Being Born? asks] probing and humane questions about what it means to be an artist."
Publishers Weekly

"Sean Michaels achieves an astonishing level of narrative, emotional and psychological density with his tightly focused novel Do You Remember Being Born? . . . Sentence by sentence, line by line, Michaels builds a beautiful structure with dizzying, surprising imagery, conjuring metaphors that will leave you with a smile and lingering questions . . . Do You Remember Being Born? is a captivating success."
Matthew Jackson, BookPage

"An outstanding, day-bending novel . . . an iridescent exploration of what it means to make art, and what it means to build a day, or a life, around it . . . [Michaels's] shimmering, sunlit prose transports readers beyond the meaning of the words . . . His sentences are syncopated and light, allowing details, nicknames, images, and thoughts to sing."
Emily Mernin, Montreal Review of Books

“This is a book about the choices we make: as poets, parents, people. At once a moving portrait of an artist and a brilliant exploration of the nature of consciousness, Do You Remember Being Born? invites readers to consider the various ways they navigate life under digital capitalism. Sean Michaels has carried the contemporary conversation around AI into a thoughtful new space, where 'one discovers in it, after all, a place for the genuine.'"
Heather Christle, author of The Crying Book

"Sparkling and kinetic, Do You Remember Being Born? has a deeply generous spirit and a beguiling protagonist, the kind I want to follow forever. A remarkable book about the difficulty—the profundity, too—of making art and making a life."
Claire Luchette, author of Agatha of Little Neon

"I couldn’t stop reading Sean Michaels’ timely, inventive, and remarkably tender novel. It evades simple binaries about art and technology to tell a story about families, legacies, and connection; most of all, it’s a love letter to language itself."
Alix Ohlin, Lambda Literary Award winner and author of We Want What We Want

"Beautiful, wise, thought-provoking, and funny—Do You Remember Being Born? is the guiding light I have been waiting to follow through the confusion of what constitutes great art in these times. The answer? You are holding it in your hands."
Ceridwen Dovey, author of Life After Truth

“Could a novel be any timelier than Do You Remember Being Born? Wonderfully written, it makes you think, on every single page, of where it is we’re going as a species.”
Douglas Coupland, author of Worst. Person. Ever.

“One isn’t sure whether Sean Michaels is a method actor or a magician. But a poet, he is not. And thank goodness, because here is a novelist of exacting candor whose gifts turn this book full of thorns about the chilling seduction of AI into a rich ride through what is imagined humane in art. You don’t pull off a fiction like this so hitchlessly unless you truly understand how poetry and truth can coexist, even in a world that threatens both.”
Canisia Lubrin, author of The Dyzgraphxst


Product Details
ISBN: 9781662602320
ISBN-10: 1662602324
Publisher: Astra House
Publication Date: September 5th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English