A mordantly funny memoir guaranteed to make you feel better if you think your family is crazy.

Published by Alfred A. Knopf

The story is so improbable, it can only be true: A brilliant woman with a long history of mental illness — who once proclaimed herself to be "the center of the universe" — is miraculously cured by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning aboard the family boat. Nancy Bachrach warns readers, “Don’t try this at home” in her darkly humorous memoir about “the second coming” of her mother — the indomitable Lola, whose buried family secrets had been driving her crazy.

Aching and tender, unflinching and wry, THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE is a multigenerational mother-daughter story—a splendid, funny, lyrical memoir about family, truth, and the resilience of love.


"Bachrach’s moving memoir is just out from Knopf. That it’s harrowing isn’t surprising — but that it’s shockingly funny is. When I went to hear Bachrach read to a large crowd in New York, she was constantly interrupted — as she wished to be — by the audience’s laughter."
MORE Magazine

"A sparkling memoir...Vivid and vibrant...Filled with wit and humor....An eminently successful portrayal of a family, effectively combining cleverness with banter and grief with farce to demonstrate the close linkage between comedy and tragedy.”
The Jewish Chronicle

"If there's a black-comic angle, Bachrach will find it....Bachrach's book – unsentimental and all the more moving for it – is ultimately about a universal condition: the renegotiation of the adult child's relationship with her parent."
The Austin Chronicle

“Every once in a while you come across a memoir that resonates so true to your life that you think, ‘If I were only as witty and charming, I could have written that!’ Even if you are lucky enough not to over-identify with Bachrach’s completely crazy mother, you’re bound to be moved by this terrific book.”
—Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

“[Bachrach’s] acidly funny exasperation, her palpable pain, her volatile mixture of love and loathing for what her parents put her and her siblings through feels genuine. And it makes for riveting reading....Part of the story is rollicking stuff, but dark currents underlie the hilarity....By the time the book ends, love has conquered chaos, tenderness flows like a healing balm and Lola's insistence that she is the center of the universe doesn't seem so crazy after all.”
Hartford Courant

“Nancy Bachrach is a sharp observer of all around her and has a piercing ironic humor that serves as a dearly needed life preserver. The Center of the Universe is one of those stories that grabs you by the throat and leaves you proud of our capacity to survive and laugh and enjoy.”
—Anne Roiphe, author of Epilogue: A Memoir

"...a fascinating blend of dark humor, stark reality and crisp writing."
Tucson Chronicle

"The Center of the Universe is a beautifully written symphony of lunacy and hilarity. Nancy Bachrach has the comic touch."
—Robert Klein, author of The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue