Photo by Elizabeth Hall

Photo by Elizabeth Hall

INDELICACY:

“If the Little Match Girl hadn’t frozen to death on the next page, she might have grown up to be the narrator of Amina Cain’s weird, quiet debut novel, “Indelicacy.” To be clear, I mean weird in the best way — as in eyebrow raising, tantalizing and unforgettable. This is a book that holds you at an arm’s length, not the other way around.” — Elisabeth Egan, The New York Times

“The book could be set in the nineteenth century or in the twenty-second. It is as if it exists in a strange no-place, which is perhaps Cain’s way of indicating that the story she is about to tell is ageless, even outside of time.” — Sarah Resnick, Bookforum

“Cain’s bone-clean prose creates a sense of immersion in a story that feels both mythic and true.” — Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, The Guardian

“This sparse, elliptical novel finds new complexities in the familiar conflict between creative independence and the lures of traditional domesticity . . . stripped of all inessential details, the narrative has the simplicity of a parable—one whose images lodge themselves uneasily in the mind. — The New Yorker

“The voice is perfect – intrepid but assured, appreciative and curious, an outsider, in short, a writer.” — Sarah Gilmartin, The Irish Times

“Living within an unembellished aesthetic tableau, Vitória is a character of sensory excess, inclined to spend her time at dance classes, libraries, the ballet, or, most often, simply thinking.” — Nathan NcNamara, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Though Cain sets her book in an implied 18th century, the total effect calls to mind the spaceless and sumptuous red plains of La Dame à la licorne, a series of medieval tapestries at Paris’s Cluny Museum.” — Abby Walthausen, The Believer

“Indelicacy, though, is a thing of real delicacy, with a fine, distilled quality to the writing, every word precisely chosen, precisely placed. At first it seems almost too sparse, each chapter just a few pages, with Vitória as enigmatic and elusive as her surroundings. We’re in an unnamed country in an unnamed point in history. But there’s a slyness to Cain’s writing that cuts through, and makes the tale increasingly engrossing. By the end, you walk in step with her heroine as she finds her own path towards freedom.” — Holly Williams, The Observer/Guardian

“Cain’s concentrated, subtle, and intriguing portrait of an evolving artist resolutely rejecting gender and class roles, with its subtle nods to Jean Rhys, Clarice Lispector, and Octavia Butler, explores the risks and rewards of a call to create and self-liberate.” — Donna Seaman, Booklist starred review

The most famous first-person story starts with a chapter titled, “I am born”. Here Cain concentrates on a woman trying, artistically and intellectually, to be born. — Mark Thomas, The Canberra Times.

“To read Amina Cain is to enter tide pools of the mind. On its surface, her fiction is quiet, lovely, contained, but sit with any passage and that which seems still uncoils and comes alive.” — Alissa Hattman, The Rumpus

“Books don’t have to be sagas to make an impression. Indelicacy’s undemanding prose style can likewise easily be a speed read. Perhaps it was always Cain’s intention to draw in busy readers quickly and easily, then suspend us, helpless and happy, in the extraordinary world she has created, unmoored in time or place.” — Isabel Berwick, The Financial Times

“Τhe connotations of ‘becoming’ here are multivalent—her husband means it as unsuitable, unseemly, unattractive. Indelicate. The novel, though, is about an uninterrupted emergence and shaping of the self. Yet Indelicacy is not only introverted. The novel turns outward while also, reflexively, remaining its subject.” –Natalie Bakopoulos, Fiction Writers Review

While the book features vulgarities . . . its language and fragmented structure are gauzy and fine . . . The real magic of Cain’s slim novel lies in its restraint and precision . . . with its soft atmosphere and appreciation of the unspoken, the book evokes the filmmaking of Sofia Coppola, Joanna Hogg or Claire Denis.” Alina Cohen, The Observer

Cain . . . works with insight and finely crafted writing, making Indelicacy perfect for fans of Virginia Woolf and Michael Cunningham.” —Cindy Pauldine, Shelf Awareness starred review

“With its short, spare sentences, Cain’s writing seems simple on the surface—but it is deeply observant of the human condition, female friendships, and art. A short, elegant tale about female desire and societal expectations.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Vitória’s deadpan voice and Cain’s finespun descriptions of quotidian disappointment energize this incisive tale. This novel disquiets with its potent, swift human dramas.” — Publishers Weekly

“It’s appropriate that Amina Cain initially situates Vitória, the protagonist of her haltingly beautiful new collection of prosodies, as a cleaning lady in a museum. Her novel, laid out in sections that rarely move beyond a few pages, maintains a fractious semblance of narrative movement throughout.” Michael Workman, New City

“It’s remarkable to witness how, after cutting away each unnecessary word, there is room – even in a novel of this size – to cover such an array of fascinating subjects, whilst adding something bracingly new to the discourse. Indelicacy has the makings of a modern classic, and is destined to be a book that women, in particular, hold close to their hearts.” — Chloe Walker, Culture Fly

“Old-world markers abound—horses and candlelight, embroidery and feathered hats—but the atmosphere is that of a parable, as if Vitória is writing herself into existence outside historical time, an effect enhanced by the snippets of other books that weave in and out of the text.” — Lidija Haas, Harper’s

“Readers will debate whether Vitória’s final act towards her husband constitutes an act of liberation or one of gross cynicism, but it is this rupture that earns this delicately wrought Künstlerroman its title.” — Tayt Harlin, Times Literary Supplement

CREATURE:

“Let me describe where Creature rests in my body—deep within my thoracic spine, in the middle of my vertebrae alongside photo booth-sized images of unrequited knives. I am conscious of it as I watch my body read. Its language moves and settles. This process of watching—as opposed to thinking—may seem enigmatic. It is.” — Claire Donato, HTML Giant

“There’s not a sense of obsession with the self as much as there is a sense of the self unharbored, left living in a strangely ageless world somewhere between Emily Dickinson and David Lynch.” — Blake Butler, VICE

“As I read these stories, I found myself looking inside for the makings of a creature.” — Teow Lim Goh, Full Stop

“There are no stakes, no rising action, no arc. Just a wild kind of lostness that’s as alluring as it is unsettling.” — Jim Ruland, The Los Angeles Times

“Cain takes a lot of risks in her book by redefining plot and creating so many narrators who are unknowable and generally unfamiliar. But the risks pay off in sheer beauty, and in Creature, she has created a beautiful monster indeed.” Erin Lyndal Martin, The Collagist

“Cain captures a particular kind of attempt at happiness: trying to be easy on oneself; praying at a Zen monastery; focusing on small pleasures like orchids and neatly folded towels. Perhaps that’s why, in both form and content, so much here is microscopic, with a delicate sadness infusing mundane activities like bathing, spilling olive oil, and touching a wall.” — Publishers Weekly 

I GO TO SOME HOLLOW:

I Go To Some Hollow floats and tilts, as balanced as a mobile; rather than narrative arcs we get laps, tides, and circuit, currents of clear observation and the occasional stunning insight.”  — Miranda Mellis, Rain Taxi Review of Books

“In this debut collection, the dominant mood is [a] sense of wonder, shot through with nervousness.  Amina Cain’s travelers view their surroundings with a curious emptiness, other times ecstasy, while adrift either abroad or in a distinctly American terrain: bodies of water, fields, or forests, the banality of a heated pool or the aisles of Home Depot.” — Kate Zambreno, The Believer

“There’s something calmly erotic about Cain’s writing, a treatment of sex as both a source of energy and a supremely unfascinating part of life.” — Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago

“Don’t be surprised if you’re carrying this book around with you for a while.  It has a way of wanting to accompany your own daily rituals.  It has a way of expecting something from you.” — Jacquelyn Davis, Bookslut

“Cain’s debut demonstrates that when the clichéd expectations of traditional narrative are gently omitted, what’s left is a calming stillness, and startling language—a welcome relief from the ironic realism that characterizes so much young contemporary fiction.  We need more writing like this.” — A D Jameson, The Review of Contemporary Fiction