Elizabeth Reeder


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Elizabeth K Reeder is a Chicago native now living in Scotland. She writes novels, essays and stories, and also writes for the radio. She is fascinated by things we build and dismantle (houses, identity, family, community) and how we write about them. 

Elizabeth is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow and is a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Her first novel was shortlisted for a number of awards including a Saltire Literary award.

Current publication:

An interdisciplinary collaboration with artist Amanda Thomson; a collection of lyric, intermedial essays about the places between life & death, memoir & poetry.
'microbursts shows that grief is communal, that love is experimental, that forms are yet to be decided. This book is a generous lesson in living and dying.' Maria Fusco
'Reeder writes of grief and its siblings, anger and not knowing, with the surety of an initiate. The in-between time of illness shatters and scatters language. Thomson creates a cohesive reading space to contain these fragments. Shadows of past and future texts ghost expanses of white paper. Punctuation hangs in the balance. In these soft absences. Language has time. To regroup. To recover.' J. R. Carpenter
'microbursts is a sparklingly original, tender book that remakes language with delicacy and verve – finding new ways to speak loss, change and the many layered movements of the self.' Rebecca Tamás
'microbursts is… a map of loss and wonder that charts the tectonic plates of life and death at the places where they rub together'. Sophie Ward
'microbursts is a master-class in the necessary constructedness of fine elegy that renders the heart-wrenching buoyant… Under the fierce beams of its fateful subject, the willingness of language to move freely, poetically, in bird-like hoverings and escapes, produces a rare haunting resonance.' - Jeffrey Robinson
‘Haunting, beautiful, honest. This is an incredibly relatable and carefully curated collection of writing and imagery about love, grief and creativity. The passages recounting the decline and loss of Elizabeth’s parents resonated deeply with me and will offer comfort to anyone in a similar situation. It is a wholly original, truthful and sensitive portrayal of life and loss.’ - Annie Lyons
'It’s a magical act to make something from the fragments of two lives crumbling. It might be called a work of art. To make a piece of paper out of fragments of a tree, it is necessary first to break them down into microbursts. Reconstructed it is never a tree, but it might be a map. Reeder and Thomson have made a map of grief from the fragments of two lives crumbling, a map we might be able to find our way by.' Joanna Walsh
'This is a gem of a book, in which Reeder crystallises her experiences of family love and grief onto each page… [Thomson’s] shading of text for different voices, the mirroring of print, the word layout all serve to replicate how memory works. The effectiveness of Reeder and Thomson’s collaboration is clear to see in this magnificent book'. Malcolm Alexander
'microbursts is as elegant as it is daring, a ‘needlesharp’ interdisciplinary primer on how to communicate the quiet discoveries and sublime pains of the lived experience. The project presents stirring testimony to the crucial roles of inquiry, Queer collaboration, and experimentation in twenty-first century artmaking'. Margot Douaihy, Editor, Northern New England Review

Praise for AN ARCHIVE OF HAPPINESS - Penned in the Margins - 15th September 2020

'This is a wonderful book. Tender and insightful on the love and tensions on one crucial day in the life of a family.' - Sophie Ward

'Poignant, moving story of a fractured family restoring bonds in their trysting place. EK Reeder has placed her tale perfectly in the physical and emotional landscape of Scotland today. No-one can accuse her of tartanising. This is real life in the Highlands of Scotland.' - Malcolm Alexander

 ‘Lyrical prose, with delicately beautiful descriptions that leave the senses reeling and take the reader’s breath away over and over again.’ - Celia Anderson

'An Archive of Happiness is a poignant, multi-layered exploration of family relationships brilliantly revealed. A haunting story told in exquisite prose' - Ruth Hogan

‘This is such a big-hearted, intricate and compelling novel: it is as robust and delicate as the landscapes it inhabits. Reeder tells a story of loss, fracture and repair, every sentence infused with both clear-sightedness and love.' - Jenn Ashworth

'An Archive of Happiness is a beautifully weaved together novel that carries within its daring structure the real sense of a family who are struggling and striving to live their truest selves.’ - Helen McClory

'An exquistite novel that resonates with tender, forgiving truth' - Helen Sedgwick 

'Elizabeth Reeder's stately prose contrasts with the perfectly observed, everyday minutiae of a tense family reunion in an Archive of Happiness - a modern-day To The Lighthouse when it comes to the sensation of time constantly slipping through the fingers even while drawing out into an eternity of moments.' - Harriet Walker

‘They were angry and funny and exposed and there was a mother-sized absence in the middle of their family and if they poked it, it growled." Knocked out cold by Elizabeth Reeder’s An Archive Of Happiness, a magnetic storm cycle of a novel. Nettle-stung family epic.' - Margot Douaihy 

'This is a compelling, haunting tale of the Avens family, who reunite every year in the wild and beautiful Scottish Highlands. Taking place over the course of one day, we become intimately acquainted with each family member, the secrets they keep and the sadness they share. It is a heart-breaking, thrilling story which stayed with me long after the final page.' - Annie Lyons



Publication DetailsNotes

Kohl Publishing

When Rachel Roanoke sees Hal Fremont across a diner counter, she claims him as her own, and they start to build their rambunctious brood. Against their parents’ ill-starred fairytale romance, the Fremont children fight for their territory within the shifting, bitter bonds of family. In this tale of prejudice, identity and desire, Fremont becomes a map of survival.


Freight Books

Roe is like any other fifteen year old suburban Chicago teenager. Her only worries are schoolwork, keeping up with her wayward best friend, and whether or not she should sleep with her boyfriend. Then her adoptive father, a locksmith, disappears one winter’s day without explanation.
As Roe tries to find out where he is and why he left, her past unravels, revealing secrets and lies that will change her future forever. RAMSHACKLE is a beautiful novel about abandonment, identity and self-discovery in the harshest of circumstances, set in suburban Chicago.


Penned In The Margins

A poetic novel about an unconventional family in the Scottish Highlands by Elizabeth Reeder. An Archive of Happiness is mostly set over the course of one day, during the Avens family's annual get-together on the Summer Solstice. Theirs is a fractured family, broken by arguments, by things said and not said, by a mother who left and a father who was left behind. What happens on this day will force them to cleave together to survive and redraw the traditional bonds of family. The novel offers sharp insights into family and grief.