Named a Summer Read by Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Nylon, Bustle and Literary Hub
One of Granta’s Best Young American novelists, Catherine Lacey, the Whiting Award-winning author of The Answers, showcases her literary style in short fiction with Certain American States, a collection of stories about ordinary people seeking—and failing to find—the extraordinary in their lives.
Catherine Lacey brings her narrative mastery to Certain American States, her first collection of short stories. As with her acclaimed novels Nobody Is Ever Missing and The Answers, she gives life to a group of subtly complex, instantly memorable characters whose searches for love, struggles with grief, and tentative journeys into the minutiae of the human condition are simultaneously gripping and devastating.
The characters in Certain American States are continually coming to terms with their place in the world, and how to adapt to that place, before change inevitably returns. A woman leaves her dead husband’s clothing on the street, only for it to reappear on the body of a stranger; a man reads his ex-wife’s short story and neurotically contemplates whether it is about him; a young woman whose Texan mother insists on moving to New York City with her has her daily attempts to get over a family tragedy interrupted by a mute stranger showing her incoherent messages on his phone. These are stories of breakups, abandonment, and strained family ties; dead brothers and distant surrogate fathers; loneliness, happenstance, starting over, and learning to let go. Lacey’s elegiac and inspired prose is at its full power in this collection, further establishing her as one of the singular literary voices of her generation.
About the Author
Catherine Lacey is the author of Nobody Is Ever Missing, winner of a 2016 Whiting Award and finalist for the Young Lion's Fiction Award, and The Answers. In 2017, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. Her essays and fiction have been published widely and translated into Italian, French, Dutch, Spanish and German. She was born in Mississippi and is based in Chicago.
"If depression is a clouded lens that distorts reality, Lacey . . . is perhaps the finest crafter of these lenses in American fiction . . . On every page, she slips a tiny gem into your palm, a little miracle of perspective . . . Certain American States is exactly what you would expect from Lacey: perfect sentences, penetrating insights, devastating epiphanies." —Adam Morgan Chicago Tribune
"[Lacey's prose is] complex, enigmatic, endlessly compelling...within these stories of loneliness and despair, grief, and searching, are threads of something more hopeful, an idea that as lost as we might feel, there is the possibility of finding ourselves, we just need to learn how to let go. So let's go." —Kristin Iversen Nylon
"[A] collection of stories rife with sentences whose length and detached style work hand in hand to evoke emotions and encourage thinking and reflection." —Julia Vitale, Vanity Fair
"[Lacey] is playful and smart, one of a generation of American women who seem entirely unafraid." —Anne Enright, The Guardian
"Lacey explores the effects of solitude and the strains of relationships in her stellar first story collection . . . On display is Lacey’s trademark handle on the plight of characters who feel lost in their own lives, as well as her ability to enter the minds of her harried protagonists, making this collection a strong new showcase for her fiction." —Publishers Weekly
"[Lacey] continues to showcase her literary prowess . . . Readers will be drawn to Lacey’s rhythmic, reflective prose and the stories she tells, which are filled with affecting emotional complexity just at the point of bursting." —Booklist
"Wryly devastating . . . The stories are exquisite: Every line is dry and spare and bracing, without a single syllable out of place. A fully realized vision." —Kirkus Reviews