Sheila Kohler Stories from Another World

ISBN 13: 9780865381100

Stories from Another World

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9780865381100: Stories from Another World
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A new collection of short fiction by the South African author whose debut novel was praised by J. M. Coetzee as "wholly entrancing." Sheila Kohler's new stories range from a boarding school in South Africa where a pre-adolescent girl discovers her own mortality when an aging teacher attempts to seduce her, to a remote American mental hospital visited by an idealistic young psychiatrist from the city, to the South African veld where a young physician's confession to his wife of a homosexual affair leads to his death. Kohler's writing is intelligent, sensual, compassionate, always laced with irony and a subtle humor.

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About the Author:

A native of South Africa, Sheila Kohler has published four novels and two previous collections of short stories. Her novel Cracks was chosen by Library Journal and Newsday as one of the best books of 1999. Presently living in New York City, she teaches at Bennington College.

From Publishers Weekly:

Though South Africa-born Kohler (Cracks; Children of Pithiviers; etc.) sets her stories in France, Italy, South Africa and the U.S., these 12 spare tales evoke not place but time-often a single, terrible moment. The 11-year-old narrator of "Underworlds," forced to stay at boarding school on Sunday as punishment for the "disgrace" of talking back, is horrified to find herself the object of a teacher's desires. In "Casualty," a woman's infidelity may be idle gossip for the servants, but it has terrible consequences for her daughter. In these stories and others, the fate of the main characters is left unclear, as Kohler, with mixed results, allows readers only the briefest glances into their lives. In the masterful, multilayered "Baboons," a man becomes enraged when his wife fails to react to the news that he is having an affair with another man (he "thinks that if she... had sobbed instead of speaking French, if the baboon had not jumped onto the bonnet of his car, he would probably have taken her into his arms"). One of Kohler's themes is the dark side of cause and effect: fathers are dead, so children must be responsible for their mothers; husbands cheat, so their wives look for lovers. While her prose can be lyrical, and the premise of each story is compelling (a woman picking up a stranger the day before her wedding; a mother and her three daughters angling for an inheritance with the help of spiked lemonade), these tales-of betrayal, adultery and doubt-are sometimes less than fully realized.
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