In this “deeply original” (Elif Batuman) and “violently funny” (Myriam Gurba) story, a young lawyer finally confronts her dark past so she can live in a more peaceful future.To the outside observer, Vivian is a success story—a dedicated lawyer who advocates for mentally ill patients at a New York City psychiatric hospital. Privately, Vivian contends with the memories and aftereffects of her bad childhood—compounded by the everyday stresses of being a Black Latinx woman in America. She lives in a constant state of hypervigilant awareness that makes even a simple subway ride into a heart-pounding drama.
For years, Vivian has self-medicated with a mix of dating, dieting, dark humor and smoking weed with her BFF, Jane. But after a family reunion prompts Vivian to take a bold step, she finds herself alone in new and terrifying ways, without even Jane to confide in, and she starts to unravel. Will she find a way to repair what matters most to her?
A debut from a stunning talent, Post-traumatic is a new kind of survivor narrative, featuring a complex heroine who is blazingly, indelibly alive. With razor-sharp prose and mordant wit, Chantal V. Johnson performs an extraordinary feat, delivering a psychologically astute story about the aftermath of trauma that somehow manages to brim with warmth, laughter, and hope.
“Deeply original, socially important, psychologically revelatory, propulsively and idiosyncratically readable. POST-TRAUMATIC is a gem.”—Elif Batuman, author of THE IDIOT
“Chantal V. Johnson has blessed us with a cool, stylish, and violently funny novel about survival. It made me smile, laugh, cringe, shiver, and think. Like life, Post-traumatic is richly triggering and highly recommended.”—Myriam Gurba, author of MEAN
"Stunning and riotous, POST-TRAUMATIC took me right under and then revived me, like only the best fiction can do. Johnson's delicious, meticulous prose delivers such intimacy and hilarity on the page, I laughed and cried all the way through. This is a raw, brilliant, and unforgettable debut. I love everything about it!"—Deesha Philyaw, author of National Book Award Finalist THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES
"A brutally funny and poignant debut…Dark humor is another coping mechanism for Vivian, which Johnson deploys with tremendous skill…Throughout, Vivian’s confrontational interactions feel achingly true to life. This is revelatory and powerful.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Starred Review
“With searing intelligence, wicked humor, and an utterly captivating heroine, this brilliant debut shows us what it means to live with, and beyond, trauma. I felt such kinship with Vivian that I sometimes felt like Johnson was reading my mind.”—Jessamine Chan, author of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD MOTHERS
“Post-traumatic is swift, caustic, charismatic, beautiful, terrifying, and so incredibly funny. It learns and unlearns itself continually, propelled by a restless main character whose gaze withers the world, the reader, and more achingly, herself. Johnson composes such precise, pathologically consumable prose that I couldn't stop reading, even if it was the way I’d watch a scary movie: through my fingers.”—Tommy Pico, author of IRL and JUNK
“Post-traumatic is astonishingly funny, intimately neurotic, and so honest and necessary that I can't stop thinking about it. From the first sentence, we are thrust into the hyper-awareness of a character whose boundless vigilance makes us feel like both observer and observed. Johnson's attention to detail is so salient that it's simultaneously shocking and familiar. This book is a mirror I couldn't put down.”—Jill Louise Busby, author of UNFOLLOW ME
POST-TRAUMATIC's Vivian is one of the most fascinating characters I've read in contemporary fiction: self-aware and lost, cutting and wounded, resilient and vulnerable — all those misfit bits that add up to the whole of a real human being. And Chantal V. Johnson writes her with a startling intimacy that makes reading feel like an illicit thrill.”—Dawnie Walton, author of THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV
“Chantal V. Johnson is a brilliant documentarian of the unstable. She writes with a forensic and unsentimental sense of justice, in sentences that spark with life.” —Vanessa Veselka, author of THE GREAT OFFSHORE GROUNDS
“Johnson’s debut is a captivatingly raw, funny and relatable take on the survivor narrative.”—Karla J. Strand, MS. Magazine