Ani DiFranco Shares Her Passion and Hard-Won Wisdom on the Page

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When celebrated singer-songwriter and social activist Ani DiFranco was conceiving her memoir, NO WALLS AND THE RECURRING DREAM, she admitted, “Writing songs is not really about discipline. There’s work, yes, but also to really get it right the clouds must part and a shaft of light come down, in a living moment things must align. Writing prose has already presented itself differently to me. It feels like sitting in front of a huge slab of timeless stone and staring unfocused until a figure appears, and then chipping … and chipping, and then again un-focusing the eyes. A much more Zen exercise in its ritual and manual labor. I am very excited about exploring this new kind of writing and making a book.”

According to Viking Executive Editor Rick Kot, “Ani brought the same commitment to writing NO WALLS as she has always brought to her music and to the causes she has supported, which meant that she never settled for anything less than expressing herself as clearly and as passionately as she could. For an editor, there’s nothing more gratifying than working with a writer who challenges you to match that level of engagement.”

Ani DiFranco photo by Danny Clinch

Published by Viking on May 7, the book recounts DiFranco’s early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. Ani’s coming of age story is defined by her ethos of fierce independence–from being an emancipated minor sleeping in a Buffalo bus station, to unwaveringly building a career through appearances at small clubs and festivals, to releasing her first album at the age of 18, to consciously rejecting the mainstream recording industry and creating her own label, Righteous Babe Records.

An alumni of NYC’s The New School, DiFranco launched her book there on Tuesday night inside the John L. Tishman Auditorium in conversation with Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In front of a sold-out audience, Ani and Cecile had a lively and inspiring conversation about Ani’s early life, music career, starting her own record label, and her activism for women and reproductive rights. You can watch a video of the event online here.

A sampling of widespread praise for DiFranco and her book:

  • “After reading this funny, honest account of [Ani DiFranco’s] life up to age 30, it’s clear that though her choices may not be for everyone, they’re part and parcel of her integrity and creative path.”
    —The Washington Post
  • “Ani DiFranco has spent decades challenging the status quo, standing up for what she believes and creating honest, raw music. Her memoir is an extension of these passions. . . . NO WALLS AND THE RECURRING DREAM is unapologetic, steadfast, and vulnerable. It’s as if DiFranco has invited you into the living room of her New Orleans home to have a long discussion about how she got to where she is.”
    —Associated Press
  • “[DiFranco] manages to shed new light on how a young, talented woman created enough momentum to slingshot herself beyond her town’s suffocating gravitational pull and create an entirely new solar system, populated with an orbit of planets and moons of her own devising.”
    —Rolling Stone


Posted: May 10, 2019