Synopses & Reviews
An astonishing debut collection of sharp psychological portraits of characters trying to rebuild shattered lives.
Fearlessly riding the line between imagination and experience, fact and fiction, the linked stories in Sara Majka’s debut collection offer intimate glimpses of a young New England woman whose life must begin afresh after a divorce. Traveling the roads of Maine and the train tracks of Grand Central Station, moving from vast shorelines to the unmade beds of strangers, these fourteen stories circle the dreams of a narrator who finds herself turning to storytelling as a means of working through the world and of understanding herself. A book that upends our ideas of love and belonging, and which asks how much of ourselves we leave behind with each departure we make, Cities I’ve Never Lived In exposes, with great sadness and great humor, the ways in which we are most of all citizens of the places where we cannot stay.
"Cities I’ve Never Lived In is like no other book I’ve read: graceful and poignant, original and wise. Its stories unfold in the bars, thrift stores, and rented rooms of a Maine you won’t find in tourist guidebooks or outdoor catalogs, but their deeper territory is the human heart: loss and loneliness, desire and grief, and the strange beauty to be found in desolation. Like the memories that haunt her watchful, wounded characters, Sara Majka’s exquisite prose stayed with me long after I had turned the last page of this terrific debut." Mia Alvar
"Sara Majka’s prose is the star in this debut collection of linked short stories, which follow a young New England woman rebuilding her life post-divorce. Majka’s words find a way to tear at your insides as they come together to form a vivid picture of isolation. Deeply moving, these stories are the kind that’ll make you stare straight into that roaring fire while you think hard about what’s important to you." Elle Magazine
"Majka’s stories gently remind us that we take our preoccupations with us wherever we go as we follow the narrator to vividly rendered places from the shoreline towns of Maine to small islands, from decaying Midwestern cities to Greenpoint by the BQE. The prose is lucid and spare, with crystalline moments of gut-punching insight on every page." Rebecca Worby, Electric Literature
"I still can’t get some of [Majka’s] perfect assessments of the human condition out of my head. Her writing is matter-of-fact (thought very beautiful), and her characters are sad, occasionally desperate....She’s incredibly effective." The Cut
"Majka brings the reader to startling places....From certain angles, it’s a kind of New England gothic, where the lost children and dead women and doppelgängers serve to add atmosphere and meaning to the narrator’s past peregrinations, her dalliances and uncertainties. It turns out in the end that this is in fact a book about an arty person with a complicated personal life. But it’s a lovely one, written in a moving and uncanny register." The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Sara Majka is the author of Cities I’ve Never Lived In, and her stories have appeared in A Public Space, PEN America, Gettysburg Review, and Guernica. A former fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, she lives in Queens, New York.