The cover of Adam Mansbach's new "children's book for adults."
The cover of Adam Mansbach's new "children's book for adults." Akashic Books
Here's an age-old problem for parents and caregivers: getting the beloved child to go to sleep! The whining, demands for juice and calls for more hugs are all too familiar. So no matter how much you love the little person, sometimes you just want to cuss.
Adam Mansbach captures that frustration in his new book Go the [Expletive] to Sleep, which is beautifully illustrated by Ricardo Cortes.
Mansbach says his new book sprung out of his own sleepless nights. After finally being able to put his 2-year-old daughter, Vivien, to bed, he posted on Facebook: "Look out for my forthcoming children's book Go the [Expletive] to Sleep." He says he didn't intend to write it at the time. But after joking about the idea over a few weeks, he quickly and easily wrote the book.
Mansbach did his first public reading of the book in April 23 in Philadelphia. About 200 people gathered in an art salon to listen. He says many people pre-ordered the book that night.
The following morning, the book ranked a phenomenal 125 on Amazon.com. Mansbach remarks, "I'm a literary novelist; I've never even seen a number that low. Literary fiction is supposed to be at a respectable 700,000. So from there, things got crazy."
Mansbach notes that more mothers than fathers have responded. He recalls their responses as, "I feel much less alone; when I'm in the bedroom putting the kid to bed and missing dinner, or a glass of wine, or the only conversation I was going to have that day, I feel much better knowing that there are millions of people across the world dealing with the same problem and thinking the same words."
The author says Go the [Expletive] to Sleep is cathartic for parents to read because it validates their frustrations. He adds,"The book is clear on the values that we're putting forth. It's a sort of dual narrative: there's the parent's internal monologue, which is frustrated and full of obscenities; and then there's what the parent is actually saying to the child, which is sweet and loving." He states that if anything, the book is about containing the frustrations with your beloved child who's driving you crazy.
But Adam Mansbach is known for serious works, such as the bestselling Angry Black White Boy. It's about race and hip hop and has been taught at over 60 colleges, universities and high schools. His The End of the Jews has been translated into five languages, and deemed by the Boston Globe as "intense, painful and poignant." So what's it like writing a book like Go The [Expletive] To Sleep?
Mansbach says that in all his works, he strives to explore the human condition and life's paradoxes. "I've also been lucky enough and made the decision to just write the books I wanted to write without much thought about audience or commercial saleability," he says. When it comes to Go the [Expletive] to Sleep, he states it was just honest, and done with zero calculation.
Many might be wondering about Mansbach's own little one, Vivien. She is now 3-years-old, and she's much better about getting to bed. Mansbach jokes, "Maybe her inability to sleep was because of concern about the family's financial future, so maybe the book has helped her figure out that sleeping is acceptable."