A house is a body : stories

by Swamy, Shruti, 1985-

Format: Print Book 2020
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A Most Anticipated Book of 2020 from The Millions * Bustle * BuzzFeed * Electric Literature

"Swamy's A House Is a Body will not simply be talked about as one of the greatest short story collections of the 2020s; it will change the way all stories--short and long--are told, written, and consumed. There is nothing, no emotion, no tiny morsel of memory, no touch, that this book does not take seriously. Yet, A House Is a Body might be the most fun I've ever had in a short story collection." --Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

Dreams collide with reality, modernity with antiquity, and myth with identity in the twelve arresting stories of A House Is a Body . In "Earthly Pleasures," a young painter living alone in San Francisco begins a secret romance with one of India's biggest celebrities, and desire and ego are laid bare. In "A Simple Composition," a husband's professional crisis leads to his wife's discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy. And in the title story, an exhausted mother watches, hypnotized by fear, as a California wildfire approaches her home. Immersive and assured, provocative and probing, these are stories written with the edge and precision of a knife blade. Set in the United States and India, they reveal small but intense moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.

A House Is a Body introduces a bold and original voice in fiction, from a writer at the start of a stellar career.
My brother at the station
The siege
Earthly pleasures
Wedding season
The neighbors
A simple composition
The laughter artist
A house is a body
Night garden.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Swamy's haunting debut short story collection follows various female characters who struggle with expectations and hidden desires. "Wedding Season" charts the path of a couple, Tejas and Al, as they travel to Bombay for a wedding, which forces Teja to negotiate their relationship, family conundrums, and cultural expectations. "Earthly Pleasures" follows a painter who crosses paths with a mysterious figure at a San Francisco party. As she descends into alcoholism, the realities of her internal narratives shift, raising unnerving questions. Other tales explore the complexities of domesticity and other interactions. In the probing "My Brother at the Station," the pregnant narrator reflects back on a harrowing childhood incident and is shocked when she spots her long-estranged brother, an encounter leading to a host of unanswered, possibly unanswerable inquiries. The tender "Mourners" charts and connects the varied experiences of characters amidst grief and iterations of the unknown. Spanning the geographical and social distance between India and the U.S., Swamy's 12 tales illuminate her characters' imperfections and struggles, ultimately forming an attuned and mystical exploration into the enigmas of being human."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Swamy writes with a cool precision that draws the reader into her debut collection. Eleven of the 12 stories have simple descriptive titles--"Wedding Season," "Night Garden," "Mourners," "The Neighbors"--that belie the works' complexity, and the plots unspool in lovely lucid prose that has a poetic omniscience. "The Siege" begins with this attention-getting hook: "It was the priest who smothered the horse." The first line of "Blindness"--"Sudha and Vinod had a modest wedding"--is shadowed by the meaning of the story's title. The story's heroine struggles secretly with disaffection, paranoia and nightmares despite the serene surface of her married life. "The Siege" is set in an unnamed country with regressive attitudes toward women. As the female protagonist becomes increasingly introverted and fearful, her husband gains a bravura swagger. In the long and whimsical "Earthly Pleasures," arguably the centerpiece of the book, a young woman's intimate relationship with the god Krishna leads her to a sensual awakening and a heightened sense of the world's beauty. The lone stylistic exception is the title story, written in a splintered, urgent voice that amplifies the plight of the agoraphobic mother at the center; trapped with her young daughter as a raging fire encroaches from the hillside. Swamy is off to a strong start. (Aug.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Women -- Fiction.
Short stories.
Publisher Chapel Hill, North Carolina :2020
Edition First edition.
Other Titles Short stories.
Language English
Description 201 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 9781616209896
Other Classic View