I received this ARC from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Sudden Traveler is a beautiful collection of short stories interwoven by the delicately threaded narrative that speaks the language of feminine identity. Each story is an exploration of the essence of female embodiment. Not focusing on sex as gender but rather the classification, agency, violation, sorority, disambiguate, and celebration of what makes a being a woman.
These short stories range in tone by the narrator of each tale. Written in a way that a mother might tell her daughter or a sister to her own; every story is told as one would hear them mouth to ear. Spoken. Some of the voices are broken and distant as they describe the defilement of their innocence. Other voices burn with fervor as the woman is forged into a weapon of her defense. And some are the soft murmurs of affection, if not acceptance.
‘The greatest betrayal of all is to disaffiliate’The Grotesques
Hall has created a council and sisterhood in Sudden Traveler. Sometimes we are crushed beneath the boot of the world we are born to and the only saving grace is knowing that those who were walked on before us know the way to survive. In these lovely accounts, one woman might learn the lesson but she is a symbol for each of us, and each of these women’s suffering and joys are that of all women. This collection highlights the fact that we women don’t keep our secrets to save ourselves, we share them to save others.
‘…I am not this; she could tell him everything, or nothing because the present is in each millionth moment remade and unstoppable, forgiveness, war, cause, cure, all moments, all selves, possible.’M by Sarah Hall
Each of these anecdotes is uniquely random but universal. As a female reader, I can sense that these characters are people I have known or who I could understand becoming. Sometimes I am the voyeur of the life I might once have lead. While other times I am so deeply sunken into the bland anonymity of rote motion that I become a victim of my own sense of contentment. I could easily be or become an Ara or a Dilly.
‘We are all sudden travelers in the world, blind, passing each other, reaching out, missing, sometimes taking hold.’Sudden Traveler by Sarah Hall
This book is beautiful. I highly recommend it. If you enjoy these stories I suggest you also check out Anatomy by Simon Travers; it is a collection of stories and poems expressing the beauty of unflinching intimacy.
Title: Sudden Traveler: Stories
Author: Sarah Hall
Genre: Short Stories
Release Date: October 8, 2019
“Sarah Hall is one of those rare writers whose short fiction has the same luminosity as her novels. But the short form allows her more room to probe and roam, to experiment with form, to sink her fingers into the earth.”—The Observer (London)
Featuring her signature themes of identity, eroticism, and existential quest, the stories in Sarah Hall’s third collection travel far afield in location and ambition—from Turkish forest and coastline to the rain-drenched villages of Cumbria.
The characters in Sudden Traveler walk, drive, dream, and fly, trying to reconcile themselves with their journeys through life, death, and love. Science fiction meets folktale and philosophy meets mortality.
A woman with a new generation of pacemaker chooses to shut it down in the Lakeland, the site of her strongest memories. A man repatriated in the near east hears the name of an old love called and must unpack history’s dark suitcase. From the new world-waves of female anger and resistance, a mythical creature evolves. And in the woods on the border between warring countries, an old well facilitates a dictator’s downfall, before he gains power.
A master of short fiction, Sarah Hall opens channels in the human mind and spirit and takes us to the very edge of our possible selves.
About Sarah Hall:
Sarah Hall was born in 1974 in Cumbria, England. She received a master of letters in creative writing from Scotland’s St. Andrews University and has published four novels. Haweswater won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (overall winner, Best First Novel) and a Society of Authors Betty Trask Award. The Electric Michelangelo was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Eurasia Region), and the Prix Femina Étranger, and was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Daughters of the North won the 2006/07 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction. How to Paint a Dead Man was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Portico Prize for Fiction. In 2013 Hall was named one of Granta‘s Best Young British Novelists, a prize awarded every ten years, and she won the BBC National Short Story Award and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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