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Valente, Catherynne M. 1979–

Valente, Catherynne M. 1979–


Born May 5, 1979, in Seattle, WA; married. Education: Edinburgh University, B.A.


Agent—Michele Rubin, Writers House, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]


Poet and writer.


Special commendation for service in the arts, California State University, 2003; James Tiptree, Jr., Award, 2006, for In the Night Garden; Rhysling Award for achievement in speculative poetry, 2007, for poem "The Eight Legs of Grandmother Spider."


Music of a Proto-Suicide (poems), 2004.

The Labyrinth (novel), Prime Books (Holicong, PA), 2004.

Oracles: A Pilgrimage (poems), Prime Books (Holicong, PA), 2005.

Apocrypha (poems), Prime Books (Holicong, PA), 2005.

Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams (novel), Prime Books (Holicong, PA), 2005.

The Grass-cutting Sword, Prime Books (Holicong, PA), 2006.


In the Night Garden, Spectra, 2006.

In the Cities of Coin and Spice, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Work represented in anthologies, including The Book of Voices, Approaching El Dorado, The Minotaur in Pamplona, and The Years's Best Fantasy and Horror, number 18. Contributor to periodicals, including Pedestal, American River Review, Fantastic Metropolis, Poetic Injustice, Byzantium, Women's Arts Network, NYC Big City Lit, Jabberwocky, and Fantasy. Author of the poem "The Eight Legs of Grandmother Spider."


Catherynne M. Valente is the author of several collections of poetry, as well as novels and academic writing. The Labyrinth, her first novel, is a combination of fantasy and mythology that a Publishers Weekly contributor called "surreal" and "image-driven." In this feminist novel, the characters are in a maze that features butterfly wing-like doors that consume rather than open. In a review for Agony Column online, Rick Kleffel wrote that "it's not poetry. It's prose so carefully built, so compact it has the density of poetry. Once you catch the wave, you'll understand…. The Labyrinth is a powerful hallucinogen. Like most drugs, it doesn't just come and go. Once you've ingested it—once it has ingested you—the flashbacks are inevitable." Kleffel further commented that the feel and touch of Valente's writing is like that of Sylvia Plath, the first on a list of favorite writers Valente lists on her home page. Reviewer's Bookwatch contributor Nancy Jackson, who called The Labyrinth "delicious mind candy," noted that each reader will find something unique to his or her own situation in this story. She also wrote that it "is very much like a classical music piece. Starting softly it sings to the soul, is filled with complexity and poise, reaches a startling crescendo, and then leaves the body luxuriously stirred for quite some time."

A Publishers Weekly contributor called Valente's second novel, Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams, "more accessible" than the first. The story is set in Japan and is about a now-old woman who has lived alone on a mountain since her village was destroyed when she was a child. When new inhabitants repopulate the village, their young boys bring the spirit woman gifts of tea and rice. What or who she may be is never made clear, but as the story progresses, Ayako ages, gaining wisdom from the mountain and the river and ascends the five levels of a pagoda that leads her to a book of dreams. Booklist reviewer Regina Schroeder called Yume No Hon "an internal landscape painted with thoroughly poetic turns of phrase." The Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "those who admire literary craft and rich language will most appreciate this sublime tale."

On her home page, Valente cited some of the mythic archetypes she repeatedly uses in her writing: "I do so love my witches and wicked queens. I find myself drawn to feminine archetypes that previous generations have found threatening or dangerous: crones, oracles, madwomen, Amazons, virgins who aren't helpless, bad mothers. I love to give the vagina dentata voice. It so rarely gets to speak for itself."



Booklist, August, 2005, Regina Schroeder, review of Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams, p. 2009.

Publishers Weekly, July 19, 2004, review of The Labyrinth, p. 149; May 23, 2005, review of Yume No Hon, P. 64.

Reviewers Bookwatch, March, 2005, Nancy Jackson, review of The Labyrinth.


Agony Column, (June 17, 2004), Rick Kleffel, review of The Labyrinth.

Catherynne M. Valente Home Page, (November 25, 2005).

SF Site, (November 25, 2005), Mathew Cheney, review of The Labyrinth.

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