This genre-bending debut collection of stories constructs eight eerie worlds full of desire, wisdom, and magic blooming amidst decay. For readers of Carmen Maria Machado and Karen Russell.
FRUITING BODIES: STORIES
by Kathryn Harlan
W.W. Norton, June 2022
(via The Gernert Company)
In stories that beckon and haunt, FRUITING BODIES ranges confidently from the fantastical to the gothic to the uncanny as it follows characters—mostly queer, mostly women—on the precipice of change. Echoes of timeless myth and folklore reverberate through urgent narratives of discovery, appetite, and coming-of-age in a time of crisis.
In “The Changeling,” two young cousins wait in dread for a new family member to arrive, convinced that he may be a dangerous supernatural creature. In “Endangered Animals,” Jane prepares to say goodbye to her almost-love while they road-trip across a country irrevocably altered by climate change. In “Take Only What Belongs to You,” a queer woman struggles with the personal history of an author she idolized, while in “Fiddler, Fool, Pair,” an anthropologist is drawn into a magical—and dangerous—gamble. In the title story, partners Agnes and Geb feast peacefully on the mushrooms that sprout from Agnes’s body—until an unwanted male guest disturbs their cloistered home.
Audacious, striking, and wholly original, FRUITING BODIES offers stories about knowledge in a world on the verge of collapse, knowledge that alternately empowers or devastates. Pulling beautifully, brazenly, from a variety of literary traditions, Kathryn Harlan firmly establishes herself as a thrilling new voice in fiction.
« A debut of astonishing range and beauty, nimble and magical and profound. In stunning prose, Kathryn Harlan’s wildly imaginative and daring stories reveal the anguish of growing up in a dying world. Her characters’ quest for knowledge―about themselves, their families, their bodies, and their yearnings―will thrill and haunt you. » ― Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers
Kathryn Harlan received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she now teaches writing. She was the recipient of the 2019 August Derleth Graduate Creative Writing Prize. Her work has appeared in the Gettysburg Review, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere.