Wisconsin Book Festival presents Cyrus Dunham for A YEAR WITHOUT A NAME
For as long as they can remember, Cyrus Grace Dunham felt like a visitor in their own body. As a child named Grace, they mastered the art of behaving like a lovable little girl in public. In private, they posed in front of the mirror and lifted their chin up "like men in magazines," calling themselves "Jimmy." Their life was a series of imitations -- daughter, sister, teenage girl, young gay woman -- until their profound sense of alienation became intolerable. This is the story of their search for a new name. Writing with disarming emotional intensity in a voice uniquely theirs, our narrator begins as Grace and ends as Cyrus, chronicling a childhood in a family of artists with larger-than-life personalities, bouts of gender dysphoria, obsessive-compulsive disorder, debilitating anxiety, soaring romantic adventures, and the frightening and exhilarating process of gender transition, all the while exploring the complex relationships that lay our foundations, constrain us, and inform our capacity to love. Rather than looking back on their transition from a settled distance, Cyrus invites us into the process as it unfolds, honoring the messiness, confusion, self-doubt, terror and thrill of self-discovery. Signaling the arrival of a boldly original writer with a knock-out page presence, A Year Without a Name is a searching, lyrical memoir of transformation as well as a delicately observed portrait of youth.