Martha Cooley

Martha Cooley is the author of two novels—The Archivist, a national bestseller also published in a dozen foreign markets, and Thirty-Three Swoons—and a memoir, Guesswork. She co-translated Antonio Tabucchi’s story collection Time Ages in a Hurry. Her essays, reviews, short fiction, and co-translations have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books and numerous leading literary journals. She is a Professor Emerita at Adelphi University. Prior to Adelphi, she taught for fifteen years in the Bennington Writing Seminars. She lives in Castiglione del Terziere, Italy, and spends time in the United States.

All Books

Buy Me Love

Martha Cooley

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781597091206


In Brooklyn, New York, in 2005, Ellen Portinari buys a lottery ticket on a whim; not long after, she realizes she’s won a hundred-million-dollar jackpot. With a month to redeem the ticket, she tells no one but her alcoholic brother—a talented composer whose girlfriend has died in a terrorist attack abroad—about her preposterous good luck.

As the clock ticks, Ellen caroms from incredulity to giddiness to dread as she tries to reckon with the potential consequences of her win. She becomes unexpectedly involved with a man and boy she’s met at her local gym. While she grapples with the burden of secret-keeping and the tug of a new intimacy, a Brooklyn street artist named Blair Talpa is contending with her own challenges: a missing brother, an urge to make art that will “derange orbits,” and a lack of money.

En route to redeem the lottery ticket, Ellen finds her prospects entwining by chance with Blair’s—which allows Ellen to reimagine luck’s relation to loss, and the reader to revel in surprise.


Buy Me Love is a terrific novel about the eternal confusions of money and our beloved notions of free will—as they play out for one woman with a lottery ticket. It has a superbly believable romance, crooked family histories, and a sneaky double plot. Readers drawn in by its sharpness and originality will find themselves richly rewarded by its striking turns.”—Joan Silber, author of Improvement

“Money—its seductive force, the love of it, its weird immaterial nature, the good it can do, and the risk that having it could obliterate who you are—is everyone’s suave adversary in Martha Cooley’s penetrating novel. She has drawn each of these characters with striking uniqueness. They could all use a bit more money. But it’s the possibility of suddenly having a lot more that fills the story with such danger and hope. If you got everything you wanted, would you still want it? And would you still be you?”—Salvatore Scibona, author of The Volunteer


BUY ME LOVE Author Martha Cooley Interview With The Brooklyn Rail!

I met Martha Cooley in 1999 when, as a then-visiting writer in the Bennington MFA program, she gave a series of lectures, one of which covered Milan Kundera. Martha joined Bennington’s fiction faculty, teaching in the program for fifteen years; I was fortunate to study with her there. I was taken by Martha’s crisp, incisive […]

Martha Cooley in conversation with LARB on her novel BUY ME LOVE!

This is not a spoiler, I promise it isn’t, only just consider for a moment: Say you buy a lottery ticket — have you ever? — say you do, just one time. Say the jackpot is $100 million, and you win! You’re holding a ticket worth a hundred million dollars! What would you do? How would you be? That’s […]

Essay by Martha Cooley in Literary Hub!

On a damp afternoon a few years ago, descending a stone ramp adjacent to a cobblestone lane, I slipped on a slick patch. Landing on my seat, I bounced upward and sideways off the ramp, rather like a cartoon character. After somehow revolving in midair, I descended to the lane beneath the ramp, where I […]


Martha Cooley’s novel BUY ME LOVE reviewed by Vol. 1 Brooklyn!

Martha Cooley’s title for her latest novel is a predicate. A main verb and direct object, to be precise, its three words at once call to mind the subject and more, at least for the many millions with a fondness for the Beatles. The missing words “Money Can’t” function like a ghost limb for Buy Me Love⎯ and I […]