Priscila Uppal is an internationally acclaimed poet, fiction writer, and York University professor. She is the author of The Divine Economy of Salvation and To Whom It May Concern. Her memoir, Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother, was shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Prize and the Governor General’s Award. Priscila lives in Toronto. For more information visit priscilauppal.ca.
2013 Governor General’s Literary Award — Shortlisted, Non-Fiction
2013 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust — Shortlisted, Non-Fiction
Projection is the story of this mother-daughter meeting in Brazil, of how two strangers, connected by little more than blood, spent ten days together trying to build a relationship.
In 1977, Priscila Uppal’s father drank contaminated water in Antigua and within 48 hours was a quadriplegic. Priscila was two years old. Five years later, her mother, Theresa, drained the family’s bank accounts and disappeared to Brazil. After two attempts to abduct her children, Theresa had no further contact with the family.
In 2002, Priscila happened on her mother’s website, which featured a childhood photograph of Priscila and her brother. A few weeks later, Priscila summoned the nerve to contact the woman who’d abandoned her.
The emotional reunion was alternately shocking, hopeful, humorous, and devastating, as Priscila came to realize that not only did she not love her mother, she didn’t even like her.
Projection is a visceral, precisely written, brutally honest memoir that takes a probing look at a very unusual mother-daughter relationship, yet offers genuine comfort to all facing their own turbulent and unresolved familial relationships.
The rigorousness of the structure and the sentence-to-sentence quality of the writing here is borderline-heroic considering the rawness of the scenario. The 10 years it's taken Uppal to write this book have done so little to diminish its intimacy and immediacy. Projection is a book that's simultaneously cerebral and visceral, and its ardent refusal of any sort of mind-body split – to sacrifice sophistication for sentiment or vice versa – is the sign of an author who has thrown herself wholly into her work. We're exhausted and relieved when Uppal emerges from her brief encounter in one piece; happily, her volatile, pressurized book holds itself together as well.
This beautifully written memoir goes far to explode many of the myths of family, often made of fantasy.
Projection is fascinating, compelling, as beautifully written as it is honest. Honest too that there is artifice at work here, that this book is so consciously art instead of a factual record. And yet there is documentation, notes and paragraphs. A fantastic blurring of art and reality, which is the book's very point, how we all do this to suit our own purposes, Uppal's mother escaping to movies in order to justify her own choices.
Above all, Uppal is an impeccable writer, deftly infusing complex scenes and emotions with power and weight. Though she is deeply invested in the ramifications of her mother's desertion, she has enough distance to assess it clearly. Her questions may not all get answered, but Uppal brings us closer to an understanding of what mothers mean to us, and how being motherless, regardless of circumstance, affects identity, stability, and comfort. The control Uppal exerts over her narrative voice and the unique way she structures this minefield of a tale make Projection a worthy read.
Uppal's carefully crafted memoir illustrates the way art and life mesh in our mental fabric.
...Projection is no weepy Hallmark flick of the week. It doesn't lend itself to a Peaches & Herb sound bite. It's a gritty, insightful, honest and sometimes infuriating read that probes the often messy reality of family ties and mother-daughter relationships.
Projection is a raw, passionate memoir, a fierce exercise in family exorcism...
...deeply thoughtful and carefully constructed...
I highly recommend this book to be read, especially by mothers and daughters across the world. I cannot stress enough on how much you realize what you have after finishing this.
In this intimate, sad, probing and self-aware, often very funny logbook for a harrowing encounter, she does not indulge in self-pity, and although she puts humour and irony to excellent use, both to preserve her sanity and to entertain her readers, she is rarely mocking.