An Unrestored Woman

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“What an astonishing collection! Provoking, ferocious, moving, splendid, generous and essential. I seemed to finish the book in a different world than the one in which I began it.”
—Kelly Link, author of Get In Trouble and Stranger Things Happen

In her mesmerizing debut, Shobha Rao recounts the untold human costs of one of the largest migrations in history.

1947: the Indian subcontinent is partitioned into two separate countries, India and Pakistan. And with one decree, countless lives are changed forever.

An Unrestored Woman explores the fault lines in this mass displacement of humanity: a new mother is trapped on the wrong side of the border; a soldier finds the love of his life but is powerless to act on it; an ambitious servant seduces both master and mistress; a young prostitute quietly, inexorably plots revenge on the madam who holds her hostage. Caught in a world of shifting borders, Rao’s characters have reached their tipping points.

In paired stories that hail from India and Pakistan to the United States, Italy, and England, we witness the ramifications of the violent uprooting of families, the price they pay over generations, and the uncanny relevance these stories have in our world today.

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About the author

SHOBHA RAO moved to the U.S. from India at the age of seven. She is the winner of the 2014 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, awarded by Nimrod International Journal. She has been a resident at Hedgebrook and is the recipient of the Elizabeth George Foundation fellowship. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals, including Tincture, PMS poemmemoirstory, Nimrod, Water~Stone Review, and Wasafiri Magazine. She lives in San Francisco. An Unrestored Woman is her debut.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Flatiron Books
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Published on
Mar 15, 2016
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781250073839
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST FICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY TIME AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BookPage • BuzzFeed • Chicago Tribune • Kirkus Reviews • NPR • San Francisco Chronicle • Slate • Toronto Star • The Washington Post

She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction” and by Neil Gaiman as “a national treasure.” Now Kelly Link’s eagerly awaited new collection—her first for adult readers in a decade—proves indelibly that this bewitchingly original writer is among the finest we have.

Link has won an ardent following for her ability, with each new short story, to take readers deeply into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed fictional universe. The nine exquisite examples in this collection show her in full command of her formidable powers. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a middle-aged movie star makes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll.

Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids . . . These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty—and the hidden strengths—of human beings. In Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.

Praise for Get in Trouble

“Ridiculously brilliant . . . These stories make you laugh while staring into the void.”—The Boston Globe

“When it comes to literary magic, Link is the real deal: clever, surprising, affecting, fluid and funny.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“With every tale [Link] conjures a different universe, each more captivating than the last. . . . You’ll long to return the minute you leave. [Grade:] A.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Marvelous . . . As a writer Kelly Link is possessed of many magical powers, but to me what’s most notable about [Get in Trouble] is its astonishing freedom.”—Meg Wolitzer, NPR

“Sensational . . . Remain in your narrative comfort zone, or venture into Link’s uncharted sea of troubles. Come on. Live a little.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“This is art that re-enchants the world. Who needs tediously believable situations, O. Henry endings or even truthfulness to life? Give us magic; give us wonder.”—The Washington Post

“The stories here are effective because we believe them—not just their situations but also their hearts.”—Los Angeles Times

“A zero-gravity vacation in a dust jacket.”—Chicago Tribune


From the Hardcover edition.
In his introduction to this one hundredth volume of the beloved Best American Short Stories, guest editor T. C. Boyle writes, “The Model T gave way to the Model A and to the Ferrari and the Prius . . . modernism to postmodernism and post-postmodernism. We advance. We progress. We move on. But we are part of a tradition.”

Boyle’s choices of stories reflect a vibrant range of characters, from a numb wife who feels alive only in the presence of violence to a new widower coming to terms with his sudden freedom, from a missing child to a champion speedboat racer. These stories will grab hold and surprise, which according to Boyle is “what the best fiction offers, and there was no shortage of such in this year’s selections.”

Mulling over the question of character likability, series editor Heidi Pitlor asks, “Did I like these characters? I very much liked reading their stories, as did T. C. Boyle.” Here are characters who “are living, breathing people who screw up terribly and want and need and think uneasy thoughts.”  

T. C. BOYLE, guest editor, has published fifteen novels and ten collections of short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1988 for his novel World’s End and the Prix Médicis étranger for The Tortilla Curtain in 1995, as well as the 2014 Henry David Thoreau Prize for excellence in nature writing. His most recent book is the novel The Harder They Come.

HEIDI PITLOR, series editor, is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She is the author of the novels The Birthdays and The Daylight Marriage.
“What if what you did mattered more because life happened again and again, consequences unfolding across decades and continents?...A relentlessly paced page-turner and a profound meditation on the meaning of life.”
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Train

What happens to us after we die? What happens before we are born? At once a riveting mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, The Forgetting Time will lead you to reevaluate everything you believe...

What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother?

Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious—mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it.

Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years. When that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Gorgeously written and fearlessly provocative, Sharon Guskin’s debut explores the lengths we will go for our children. It examines what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between.

A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy

New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award • Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award • An ALA Notable Book

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY 
NPR • The New York Times Book Review • San Francisco Chronicle • The Guardian • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Refinery29 • Kirkus Reviews 

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Praise for Behold the Dreamers

“A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller.”—The Washington Post

“A capacious, big-hearted novel.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Behold the Dreamers’ heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Mbue’s writing is warm and captivating.”—People (book of the week)

“[Mbue’s] book isn’t the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, but it’s surely one of the best. . . . It’s a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.”—NPR

“This story is one that needs to be told.”—Bust 

“Behold the Dreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] beautiful, empathetic novel.”—The Boston Globe

“A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Un descubrimiento literario. Un libro de relatos magistral. Una autora galardonada con el Premio Katherine Anne Porter de Ficción e incluida en The Best American Short Stories.

«¡Qué colección de relatos sorprendente! Provocadora, feroz, conmovedora, estupenda, generosa y esencial. Me ha parecido terminar el libro en un mundo diferente de aquel en el que lo empecé a leer.»
Kelly Link

Muchas vidas cambiaron para siempre cuando el subcontinente indio fue oficialmente separado en dos países: India y Pakistán. Una viuda de trece años que encara el futuro cuando su marido es dado por muerto; una madre primeriza retenida en el lado equivocado de la frontera; una criada ambiciosa que seduce tanto a su señor como a su señora; una joven prostituta que planifica en silencio su venganza...

Atrapadas en un mundo de fronteras movedizas exóticamente lejano pero a la vez peligrosamente parecido al nuestro, las vidas de los personajes de estos doce relatos se entrecruzan bajo la mirada profunda, irónica y perturbadora de Shobha Rao, que sigue las huellas de grandes cuentistas como Lucia Berlin o Jhumpa Lahiri.

Críticas:
«Una narradora fascinante. Lloré con estos relatos, tan temerosa por los personajes como si los conociera de toda la vida.»
Tania James

«Frases cortas y sencillas como puñetazos eléctricos al lector, y pasajes de poderoso lirismo. Este libro de relatos consagra a Shobha Rao como una escritora de rango poco común: una voz única y poderosa.»
Chris Baltz, The Kansas City Star

«Este emotivo debut persistirá en vuestras mentes mucho después de terminar la última página.»
Karen Joy Fowler

«Sofisticado e inteligente. Una mujer desposeída se incrusta en una fuerte tradición de "literatura de la Partición", pero con una sensibilidad diferente y contemporánea.»
Anita Felicelli, San Francisco Chronicle

«Magníficos, inquietantes y asombrosamente poderosos. Cada relato es único, sugerente y agudamente provocador.»
Marylebone Journal (UK)

«Rao hace gala de un enorme poder narrativo y resume las complejidades de toda una vida en escenas y diálogos que son verdaderas joyas. Una lectura apasionante.»
Siobhan Fallon, New York Journal of Books

«Espectacular y memorable.»
Booklist

«El mejor libro de relatos del año. Doce cuentos salvajes y empáticos, brutales y líricos, tristes pero también festivos.»
Terry Hong, Bloom

«Provocador, feroz, conmovedor y esencial. Me ha parecido terminar el libro en un mundo diferente de aquel en el que lo empecé.»
Kelly Link

«Una novela descorazonadora y hermosa. Da la impresión de que Shobha Rao conociera a la perfección cada esquina de los hogares o de las prisiones de estas chicas a las que retrata. Sus descripciones son casi masticables: y donde hay dulces el lector los mastica, y donde hay sexo el lector intuye la desagradable caricia, y donde hay dolor el lector puede casi llorar.»
Luna Miguel, PlayGround

«Un libro de relatos emotivo, sofisticado e inteligente. Rao resume en escenas y diálogos que son verdaderas joyas tanto los grandes acontecimientos de la Historia como las pequeñas vidas de los que los viven.»
Mía

«Ojo a su prosa: exquisita y precisa, con un gusto por los detalles, por los pequeños gestos, por los colores vivos y los cuerpos bellos. Sus cuentos manejan muy bien la elipsis: la autora sabe cortar, como si fuera igual de importante lo que se dice que lo se calla. Ella sabe cogernos de la mano y hacer que la acompañemos en esa dura travesía. [...] Shobha Rao recuerda a mi admirada Jhumpa Lahiri.»
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