A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
All the characters in Evgenia Citkowitz’s first collection of short fiction are connected by the quest for identity—some are poised at crossroads, while others teeter on the edge of a moral precipice. In “Leavers’ Events,” a teenage girl awaits exam results and has a sexual encounter with a teacher that she hopes will define her. In “Sunday’s Child,” a middle-aged actress evicts a homeless woman from her garden, precipitating a crisis of conscience. And in the title novella, “Ether,” a blocked writer plagiarizes his own life with devastating consequences.
Unexpected and startlingly original, Citkowitz depicts her characters with a mordant humor and tenderness that never diminishes their complexity.
“Citkowitz flouts expectations….She doesn’t sound like anyone else you’ll have read in a very long while.” —The New York Times
“How coolly poised, Evgenia Ciktowitz’s prose! And how elegantly and richly detailed her fictional worlds! It’s something of a shock then to realize that in this debut collection the young author is depicting individuals devastated by emotion, if not decorticated, numbed . . . sharply observed, resolutely unsentimental, and wholly engaging.” —Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
“Comprised of seven stories and a novella…[Citkowitz] emerges as a master of both forms.” —Hilton Als, The New Yorker
“Although Citkowitz trawls familiar territory, what she does with this material is unexpected and often startling. . . The kind of imaginative leap you expect in a poem, it gives an otherwise slight story a small radiance. . . Citkowitz has an impressive literary pedigree: her mother was the novelist Lady Caroline Blackwood, her stepfather the poet Robert Lowell. But her voice, particularly her rhythm—half staccato, half headlong rush—is wholly her own. She doesn’t sound like anyone else you’ll have read in a very long while.” —Ligaya Mishan, The New York Times Book Review
“Evgenia Citkowitz’s Ether moves from Hollywood to estates in Long Island and London in pursuit of characters who inhabit glamour’s shadow—a novelist married to a starlet, a famous fashion editor’s daughter—but are compelled to stray outside socially acceptable margins.” —Megan O’Grady, Vogue.com
“A striking debut collection of stories…Citkowitz’s strength is social criticism, and she captures tensions and pretensions with killer details….Richly nuanced.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“[An] engaging debut collection…Citkowitz deftly balances the rawer emotions of life---resentment, desire, humiliation---with a crafted, clever tone.” —Booklist
“Try approaching the stories by asking, is this one the ghost story? In the eerie fictions of Ether, a character’s disorientation—whether due to supernatural causes, mental illness, or bad choices—serves as a metaphor for the unsettled times in which we all live.” —Karen Laws, The Rumpus.net
“This engaging debut collection looks at diverse characters on the edge, as they struggle with vulnerability and the conflicts in their choices, large and small . . . Citkowitz deftly balances the rawer emotions of life—resentment, desire, humiliation—with a crafted, clever tone.” —Leah Strauss, Booklist
“These stories are totally unique: they’re at once strange and graceful, macabre and funny. Evgenia Citkowitz burrows so deep inside her characters’ heads, she evokes feelings and impulses that become impossible to distinguish from our own. She understands that deep down, even in our own homes, we all feel like outsiders.” —Noah Baumbach
“These stories are so funny and electric and honest, so beautifully and artfully done, you barely notice, until you feel that slow pain in your throat, that they’re absolutely breaking your heart.” —Katherine Taylor, author of Rules for Saying Goodbye
Seven Stories and a Novella