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It all started with a blue pot.

Leslie Daniels' Cleaning Nabokov's House novel transports you to a delicious, hilarious, bittersweet world of sex, food, money, motherhood and love.

book cover image of woman in a red dress standing in blue pot in a green field and blue sky
Portrait of Leslie Daniels


Leslie Daniels’ critically acclaimed first novel, Cleaning Nabokov’s House, was published by Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, and in translation in four languages,


Leslie received a B.A. in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, MA in psychology from the New School for Social Research, MFA in creative writing from Vermont College. Leslie has taught writing workshops at the University of Pennsylvania writing conference, Eastern Washington University MFA program, Franklin & Marshall College, and others. She was the Walton Award visiting writer at the University of Arkansas. She will teach writing this summer at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.


Leslie was the fiction editor for Green Mountains Review, and guest edited the Louisville Review. In Ithaca she served as the artistic advisor to the Finger Lakes literary festival, Spring Writes. She has published stories or essays in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, New Ohio Review, Stone Canoe, among others.  Her one-act play was produced by The Shooting Gallery in New York City.  She has been nominated for Best American Essays, four times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Associated Writing Programs. Leslie lives in Ithaca, New York.




“I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world.”

So begins Leslie Daniels’s funny and moving novel about a woman’s desperate attempt to rebuild her life. When Barb Barrett walks out on her loveless marriage she doesn’t realize she will lose everything: her home, her financial security, even her beloved children. Approaching forty with her life in shambles and no family or friends to turn to, Barb must now discover what it means to rely on herself in a stark new emotional landscape.

Blending bittersweet humor and defiant originality, this stunning debut about a woman rediscovering herself after a divorce explores the heartbreaking and sometimes funny aspects of the mess called love.

Guided only by her intense inner voice and a unique entrepreneurial vision, Barb begins to collect the scattered pieces of her life. She moves into a house once occupied by Vladimir Nabokov, author of the controversial masterpiece Lolita, and discovers a manuscript that may be his lost work. As her journey gathers momentum, Barb deepens a connection with her new world, discovering resources in her community and in herself that no one had anticipated. Written in elegant prose with touches of sharp humor and wit, Cleaning Nabokov’s House offers a new vision of modern love and a fervent reminder that it is never too late to find faith in our truest selves.


“Daniels is warmly funny and audacious in this shrewd and saucy mix of family drama, gender discord, sexual healing, and high literature…” —BOOKLIST

“Required Reading” —New York Post

“Leslie Daniels has created a character to root for.”—Los Angeles Times



  • Fiction Workshop: July 11 – 17 , 2021 in the Virtual Valley
    Fiction Workshop: July 11 – 17 , 2021 in the Virtual Valley
    See for details
    See for details
    July 11 – 17 , 2021 in the Virtual Valley
    See for details
    July 11 – 17 , 2021 in the Virtual Valley
    Don't miss Leslie's Fiction Workshop at the 50th annual Community of Writers Summer Conference
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