Out on 24 June 2021

Blue in Chicago

Bette Howland

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24 June 2021
9781529035858
336 pages
Synopsis

'One of the significant writers of her generation.' Saul Bellow

'Her prose is cooler than a cocktail and sharper than a Japanese knife . . . Nora Ephron meets Lorrie Moore, which is about as good as it gets.' Rachel Cooke, Observer

'We should be glad to have her back . . . Howland has the pinpoint vision that can make any sentence into a jewel.' John Self, The Times

Blue in Chicago brings together the bittersweet short stories of the remarkable American writer Bette Howland. Hailed as a major talent before all but disappearing from public view, this tenderly compiled collection restores her vital voice to our shelves.

Bette Howland was an outsider: an intellectual from a working-class neighborhood in Chicago; a divorcee and single mother, to the disapproval of her Jewish family; an artist chipped away at by poverty and self-doubt. Her stories radiate a passionate commitment to the lives of ordinary people and the humble grace of everyday.

From city streets to the hospital to the public library to the mundane family outing, her sly humour, aching melancholy and tender insight illuminate every page. Here is an astonishing literary voice rediscovered.

Blue in Chicago features an afterword by Honor Moore and was published in the US under the title Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.

'Beautifully bittersweet . . . funny, ruefully poetic and effortlessly perceptive.' Daily Mail

'Captivating writing: rhythmic, alert, empathetic . . . I haven’t enjoyed another book more this year.' Telegraph

'Profound . . . To read Bette Howland is to be handed a gift you didn't know you needed.' Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch

The work of a woman who has invested her life in her art, and who will, I think be remembered as one of the significant writers of her generation.

Saul Bellow

She holds the city's humanity in an uneasy but affectionate embrace, and her voice is unlike any other. Fiercely straightforward, honest, angry, warmhearted.

New York Times

Her prose is cooler than a cocktail and sharper than a Japanese knife. It’s zippy, witty and sometimes deeply sad: Nora Ephron meets Lorrie Moore, which is about as good as it gets.

Rachel Cooke, Observer