You may know Marianne Wiggins from her award-winning novels, including 2003’s Evidence of Things Unseen, nominated for the National Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. But a stroke in 2016 took away her words. She regained her ability to read and write and completed another novel recently with her daughter’s help.


We have been profiling well-known people with aphasia, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gabby Giffords. We’ve now turned our attention to Marianne Wiggins.

Her Stroke Story

People magazine covered Wiggins’s stroke story, including how it brought mother and daughter together. Before the stroke, they had an estranged relationship. But “that all changed in 2016, after Wiggins, now 75, suffered a massive stroke that robbed her of her memory, when she was just three chapters shy of completing her 11th book.”


Her daughter Lara Porzak, a photographer, received news about the stroke and came to the hospital. The incident occurred during treatment for a mini heart attack. While there, her daughter helped her recover from the stroke by reading aloud to her from her uncompleted manuscript.


After rehab, they returned to the novel, taking another three years to complete Properties of Thirst together.

The Silver Lining

While Wiggins undoubtedly would have rather never experienced a stroke, her health situation and needing her daughter’s aid brought them closer together. People magazine captures the relationship between mother and daughter in the Friday, September 22, 2023 issue of the magazine, and in a brief overview online.


Porzak smiles and nuzzles closer to her mom. “When you spend this much time with somebody, there has to be love and respect,” she says, with a wink at her mom. “Respect, we’re working on it. But love, we’ve got it. This has brought us as close as we could ever be.”