Novel By Joyce Kornblatt

by JOyce KOrnblatt

Coming September, 2022.

Advance Reading Copies available for reviewers.  Contact Us.

Joyce Kornblatt is the author of four well-reviewed books: Nothing to Do with LoveBreaking BreadWhite Water, and The Reason for Wings

Mother Tongue begins with a shocking discovery.  In a powerful fiction that reads like a true story, the details of the crime and its aftermath unfold.

In mid-life, Australian fiction-writer Nella Pine learns that she was kidnapped as an infant from a hospital in the United States, taken to Australia, and raised there by the woman she knew as her mother, but who was actually her abductor.  “When I was three days old, a nurse named Ruth Miller stole me from the obstetrics ward in Mercy Hospital and raised me as her own.”

In four voices of those whose lives were changed forever by the abduction, the mystery of Nella’s kidnapping emerges. Why was she taken?  How was the secret kept for so long?  What became of the family she was stolen from?   Mother Tongue invites the reader to participate with these memorable characters as they unfold the impact on them of a terrible crime.

Advance Praise:

 "The “what-if” question that triggered this novel evokes a nightmare scenario:  What if I found out I was kidnapped when I was a baby?  In beautifully precise prose that resonates like the best poetry, Kornblatt’s central character Nella/Naomi,  the kidnap victim and a writer of fiction herself, discovers and creates her own lost story and the lost lives of all those linked to her.  In doing so, she evokes the questions we human beings often ask ourselves as we grow and change and redefine our lives: Who am I? Who might I otherwise have been? Who are my ancestors and family and how did they shape me? What replaces the map I had thought was guiding my life?  In Mother Tongue Joyce Kornblatt wisely reminds us that it is only through imagination, compassion and stories, such as the ones she crafts so elegantly here, that we can save ourselves and those we love."

-- Wayne Karlin, author of A Wolf by the Ear 


Pub Date: September 15, 2022

$17.95 trade paperback; ISBN: 978-1-7350273-1-9

$7.95 ebook; ISBN: 978-1-7350273-2-6

Distributors: Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Overdrive


About the Author

An American-born novelist who moved to Australia in 2003, Joyce Kornblatt is the author of four well-reviewed novels — Nothing to Do with LoveBreaking BreadWhite Water and The Reason for Wings — which have been published in the U.S., England, France, Denmark, and Germany. Her short stories, essays, and book reviews have appeared in publications such as The Atlantic MonthlyThe New York Times, The Washington PostGeorgia ReviewIowa Review, and The Sydney Morning Herald. She has received an O. Henry Short Story Award, grants in the U.S. from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a summer-long residency at the D.H. Lawrence Ranch.

For twenty years, she was a Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Maryland in the U.S. In Australia, she has taught and supervised post-graduate students at UTS and University of Wollongong. She has been a tutor at Varuna the Writers’ House, mentored a number of award-winning Australian writers, and has for many years offered annual year-long private writing workshops in Sydney.

Joyce Kornblatt is also an Australia-trained mindfulness-based psychotherapist. For the last ten years, she has taught Buddhist mindfulness meditation and inquiry on retreats and workshops.

She and her husband, Christopher Ash, live in the Blue Mountains near Sydney.

Visit Joyce’s website – here.



My name is Nella Pine and this is my life’s story, as new to me as it will be to you who reads it here for the first time.

I am the secret and the one who whispers the secret into your ear.

I am the crime and the narrator-sleuth.

I came upon the facts of my existence as one who returns to her home in the midst of a burglary: here is the shattered glass, the rifled drawers, the thief with the booty still cradled in her guilty arms.

When I was three days old, a nurse named Ruth Miller stole me from the obstetrics ward in Mercy Hospital and raised me as her own. This was May 7, 1968, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In Paris, ten thousand students rioted in the streets. Martin Luther King had been dead for a month, and Robert Kennedy’s killer struck in June. The war in Vietnam was at its peak. In the midst of these larger convulsions, a smaller one—deadly as napalm, precise as an assassin’s bullet—in the form of a nurse who kidnapped a child and vanished from sight.