Powerful short stories from Laura van den Berg, each centered around a pivotal moment in the life of a woman. These stories are unsettling, slightly off-kilter, and filled with an urgent sadness. A polished and haunting collection filled with the unexpected. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
ONE OF TIME'S 10 BEST FICTION BOOKS OF 2020. Longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize. Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR, Bustle, Good Housekeeping, the New York Public Library, Library Journal, Lit Hub, Electric Literature, and Tor.com
As enchanting as fairy tales, as mysterious as dreams, these exquisitely composed fictions are as urgent and original as any being written today." —Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend, winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction
One of Entertainment Weekly's 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 and 30 Hottest Summer Reads, one of O, the Oprah Magazine's 30 Most Anticipated Books of 2020, one of BuzzFeed's Most Anticipated Books of 2020 and 29 Summer Books You Won't Be Able to Put Down, one of Esquire's 20 Must-Read Books of Summer 2020, one of the BBC's Ten Books to Read in 2020, one of TIME's 12 New Books to Read in July one of ELLE's 30 Most Anticipated New Books of Summer 2020, one of Refinery29's 25 Books You'll Want to Read This Summer, one of Time's 45 New Books You Need to Read This Summer, one of Thrillist's 21 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020, one of Bustle's Most Anticipated Books of July 2020, one of LitHub's 2020 Summer Books, and one of The Millions Most Anticipated Books of the First Half of 2020
An urgent and unsettling collection of women on the verge from Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, Laura van den Berg's first story collection since her prizewinning book The Isle of Youth, draws readers into a world of wholly original, sideways ghost stories that linger in the mouth and the mind. Both timeless and urgent, these eleven stories confront misogyny, violence, and the impossible economics of America with van den Berg's trademark spiky humor and surreal eye. Moving from the peculiarities of Florida to liminal spaces of travel in Mexico City, Sicily, and Iceland, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears is uncannily attuned to our current moment, and to the fears we reveal to no one but ourselves.
In "Lizards," a man mutes his wife's anxieties by giving her a LaCroix-like seltzer laced with sedatives. In the title story, a woman poses as her more successful sister during a botched Italian holiday, a choice that brings about strange and destructive consequences, while in "Karolina," a woman discovers her prickly ex-sister-in-law in the aftermath of an earthquake and is forced to face the truth about her violent brother.
I Hold a Wolf by the Ears presents a collection of women on the verge, trying to grasp what's left of life: grieving, divorced, and hyperaware, searching, vulnerable, and unhinged, they exist in a world that deviates from our own only when you look too closely. With remarkable control and transcendent talent, van den Berg dissolves, in the words of the narrator of "Slumberland," "that border between magic and annihilation," and further establishes herself as a defining fiction writer of our time.
“These are stories about wandering and being invisible, about stepping in a cold shadow. Laura van den Berg puts into words how scary it is when you feel you're disappearing, when a disaster, personal or historical, makes ghosts of us, forever trapped in the trauma. They are also very beautiful, sometimes surreal and even funny stories, about loss and grief and sadness and the lives we try to leave behind. I think this collection will haunt me for a long time.” Mariana Enriquez, author of Things We Lost in the Fire
“The stories here, vibrating with loss, but wickedly funny, are a distinctly van den Berg-ian hybrid, as biting as they are dreamy. Witty, painful, and thoroughly unsettling.” Kirkus (Starred Review)
“A richly imaginative collection....In these 11 perceptive stories, Van den Berg displays her literary talents with acerbic acumen as she portrays indelible characters brimming with verve that is hungry and wild.” Booklist (Starred Review)
“Startling, precise....Van den Berg maintains an unsettling tone throughout these darkly imagined tales. This collection shows the author at her best.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
About the Author
Laura van den Berg is the author of the story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, The Isle of Youth, and I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, which was named one the ten best fiction books of 2020 by TIME, and the novels Find Me and The Third Hotel, which was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indie Next pick, and was named a best book of 2018 by more than a dozen publications . She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Strauss Living Award and a Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bard Fiction Prize, a PEN/O. Henry Award, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and is a two-time finalist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Born and raised in Florida, Laura splits her time between the Boston area and Central Florida, with her husband and dog.