by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 10 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 31 Jul 2021
Stories that capture our times by “a young author who has already established himself as a unique American voice” (Elle).
Said Sayrafiezadeh has been hailed by Philip Gourevitch as “a masterful storyteller working from deep in the American grain.” His new collection of stories—some of which have appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories—are set in a contemporary America full of the kind of emotionally bruised characters familiar to readers of Denis Johnson and George Saunders. These are people contending with internal struggles—a son’s fractured relationship with his father, the death of a mother, the loss of a job, drug addiction—even as they are battered by larger, often invisible, economic and political forces of American society.
Searing, intimate, often slyly funny, and always marked by a deep imaginative sympathy, American Estrangement is a testament to our addled times. It will cement Sayrafiezadeh’s reputation as one of the essential twenty-first-century American writers.
About the Author:
Said Sayrafiezadeh is the author of When Skateboards Will Be Free and Brief Encounters with the Enemy, and his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and Granta. He teaches at New York University and lives in New York.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 5 members
This is a collection of short stories that focus on young men who are treading water in their lives, dealing with entry-level jobs, mothers dying of cancer and a general inability to have things go smoothly. But Saïd Sayrafiezadeh also fills these stories with ordinary pleasures and glimpses of hope; a man remembers when his mother buys him a shirt at Goodwill that gives him credibility at his new school or a young man stuck in a dead end job meets a girl he likes. Sayrafiezadeh doesn't mind making the reader uncomfortable or uncertain. He's writing about the working class, the marginalized and the discontented. And the stories are quietly perfect, from the clear and unobtrusive writing, to the way the author creates vivid settings within a single paragraph. This book reminded me of why I love short stories so much, that when they are well-crafted, they contain entire lives in single moments.
So many excellent story collections out this year! And American Estrangement is one of them. Each story is completely unique and touches on different subjects, but to me, “work” plays a major part in most of them—the kind of work you have to do to survive, the kind of work you’d rather not be doing, or the kind of work you expected to be different, to be better. I can’t think of any other word but real to describe this book. There’s an easiness, an effortlessness to Sayrafiezadeh’s style that helps bring his stories to life, literally. Every single sentence is beautiful. “The truth is I’ve spent today the way I’ve spent most days, sitting behind the front desk for nine hours, less one hour for lunch, engulfed in a sea of silence and serenity, waiting for something to happen, while I gaze into the middle distance of white walls hung with abstract expressionism.” Aren’t we all just waiting for something to happen, at any given moment? I enjoyed his writing a lot. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book, to anyone.