Anya Liftig for Holler Rat, in conversation with Jeffrey D. Lofton
February 25, 2024 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pmFree
Anya Liftig grew up with a foot in two very different worlds: While her mother’s upbringing was so rural that the other kids called her “holler rat,” her father came from
a comfortable, upper-middle-class Jewish family. Liftig spent school years in affluent Connecticut and summers in the holler. Shaped by the experience, she would go on to win a scholarship to Yale and become an acclaimed artist, using provocative performances to explore the contradictions and unanswered questions of her life. But when the world Liftig was building for herself shattered, she was forced to reconcile where she’d come from with who she was and who she wanted to be.
In Holler Rat (Abrams Press; August 15, 2023; U.S. $28.00; Hardcover), Liftig masterfully interweaves family lore from her Appalachian childhood with her performance art pieces and scenes of the yearlong period in which her life fell apart and plumbs the cathartic self-reckoning that followed. She takes us from her Mamaw’s porch to Yale, from the site of a violent family land feud to a pre-gentrified Bushwick loft, and from a devastating childhood leg injury to having 243 raw eggs pelted at her in the name of art. In visceral, beautiful prose that ranges from raunchy and outrageous to sobering and tragic, Holler Rat is the origin story of an unconventional artistic life and a captivating account of the stumbling blocks, sacrifices, and discoveries along the way.
Anya Liftig is a performance artist and writer. Her first book, a memoir titled Holler Rat, was published by Abrams Press in August 2023. Called “a searing debut” by Publishers
Weekly and cited by Jo Ann Beard as a new influence in her writing, Holler Rat has become a USA Today best seller. Liftig’s artworks have been exhibited at TATE Modern, MOMA, Queens Museum, Movement Research, Performer Stammtisch Berlin, Performance Space London, and many other venues around the world. As a dancer and actress. Liftig’s work has been published and written about in the New York Times Magazine, BOMB, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue Italia, PAJ, New York, Theater Magazine, and many others. Her experimental film and video work has been screened in festivals in Canada, Greece, UK, Holland, France, and many other countries. Her essays have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and noted in Best American Non- Fiction. She is a Connecticut Council for the Arts Emerging Arts Fellow in Creative Writing, a recipient of a Franklin Furnace Award, and fellowships at MacDowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson, VCCA, Atlantic Center for the Arts and Yaddo.