Synopses & Reviews
"My father was a man who believed history repeated itself. Not in the large ways, of nations and of wars, but in the smaller ways of families. He was a religious man, and he believed that the patterns of the universe were fixed in place, infinite but static, revealed to the devout through the pure concentration of prayer. What is destiny, and what is in the power of a single individual?"
These are a few of the many thought-provoking and necessary questions this elegant, enchanting, and intelligent voice probes in this collection of eleven stories, many of them award-winning and published in our finest magazines.
The characters in these stories are often separated from the mainstream a juggler and a trapeze artist, a daughter whose mother is a public evangelist waging a war against sin, a cleaning woman whose life is inexplicably tied to Marie Curie's. The stories they inhabit transcend the barriers of time to explore the universal driving force of our experience: the magnitude of human love.
In "Spring, Mountain, Sea," a young American brings his Korean brie home after serving in the war, and finds himself isolated from both his own culture and the culture of his new family. In "Gold," a Malaysian rubber tapper becomes obsessed with the possibility of becoming as wealthy as the foreign landowners who visit his village, and in his quest for gold nearly destroys the enduring relationships that have shaped his life. In the title story, the narrator a fire-eater in a circus shows a careless disregard for a boy who comes to learn his trade and as a consequence brings about his own downfall.
Taking us to exotic and remote places in America, Europe, and Asia, The Secrets of a Fire King is at once magical and profound, marking the extraordinary debut of a new voice in American fiction.
"The Secrets of a Fire King gives eloquence to their astonishing range of discoveries and leaves the reader entranced." Nina Sonenberg, The New York Times Book Review
"Striking...powerful." Amanda Heller, The Boston Globe
"Ambitious and moving..Edwards writes quietly and intelligently....Each story here is finely crafted and deeply felt." Jane McCafferty, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Edwards utilizes her perceptual ability and keen eye for detail to delineate believable characters, many of whom are facing unique challenges." Library Journal
"A talented writer still in search of subjects worthy of her craft." Kirkus Reviews
Many of the award-winning stories in Edwards collection feature strong, pragmatic women as protagonists. The author utilizes her keen eye for detail to portray believable characters, many of whom are facing unique challenges.
The first story collection from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter
With The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards touched hearts across the nation. In this, her first collection of stories-now with three new stories added-she explores the lives of those who exist on the fringes of society: a fire-eater, an American and his Korean war bride, Madame Curie's maid, and others. Though their tales vary dramatically, each comes up against the barriers of place and circumstance in the most universal of experiences: the quest to discover and understand the elusive mysteries of love. Transporting readers to exotic locations, this beautiful collection reinforces Edwards's presence as an extraordinarily gifted writer.
About the Author
Kim Edwards has won numerous awards, including a Whiting Award and the Nelson Algren Award and most recently the Kentucky Literary Award for fiction. She is the author of a collection of short stories, The Secrets Of a Fire King, which was an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Anteaus, Story, and The Paris Review and have received a National Magazine Awards for excellence in Fiction and a Pushcart Prize. A graduate of the Iowa's Writers' Workshop, she currently teaches writing at the University of Kentucky. This is her first novel, which has been chosen as a Barnes and Noble Discover title. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband and daughters.
Table of Contents
The Secrets of a Fire King The Great Chain of Being
Spring, Mountain, Sea
A Gleaming in the Darkness
The Way It Felt to Be Falling
The Secrets of a Fire King
In the Garden
The Story of My Life