Author(s): Ottessa Moshfegh
There's something eerily unsettling about Ottessa Moshfegh's stories, something almost dangerous while also being delightful - and often even weirdly hilarious. Her characters are all unsteady on their feet; all yearning for connection and betterment, in very different ways, but each of them seems destined to be tripped up by their own baser impulses. What makes these stories so moving is the emotional balance that Moshfegh achieves - the way she exposes the limitless range of self-deception that human beings can employ while, at the same time, infusing the grotesque and outrageous with tenderness and compassion. The flesh is weak; the timber is crooked; people are cruel to each other, and stupid, and hurtful, but beauty comes from strange sources, and the dark energy surging through these stories is oddly and powerfully invigorating.
One of the most gifted and exciting young writers in America, she shows us uncomfortable things, and makes us look at them forensically - until we find, suddenly, that we are really looking at ourselves.
This is a collection of short stories best described as psychological fiction. The author easily inhabits the lives of the ordinary, the average, the regular routine and the everyday bric-a-brac. While these lives seem to have only modest value, each character is located in a precise situation; intense isolation, acute alcoholism, reckless boredom.
These individuals can be cruel and stupid but what redeems them is the high-wire act of each seeing themselves as good and worthwhile people. The reader is seldom sympathetic towards these people and the stories usually end with faint resolution - but there is always the suggestion of hope. The stories are beautifully realised and this is down to style. The author has a nonchalant – even insouciant – way of expressing exactly what she means. I agree with one reviewer who commented that Moshfegh can both electrify and terrify the reader in the same sentence! Compelling stuff. Mike
"Razor-sharp short stories." * Zadie Smith * "Moshfegh is consistently as sparky and gripping as she is inventive... She could become one of the most outstanding US writers of her generation." -- Peter Carty * i * "The characters in this collection are an unlovely bunch but make for an irresistible read... She writes terrific, attention-grabbing openings, and impactful last lines that don't strain for a lapidary effect. Her damaged-girl deadpan snark is second to none, but she inhabits other character types with ease." -- Christopher Taylor * Financial Times * "She can really write and has a pitch-black sense of humour." -- Phil Baker * Sunday Times * "Moshfegh's writing is cinematic - vivid, immediate." -- Gwendoline Riley * Times Literary Supplement *
Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from Boston. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize for her stories in The Paris Review and granted a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. One of the stories in this collection, 'Slumming', recently won an O. Henry Award. Her novel Eileen was awarded the 2016 Pen/Hemingway Award and is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.