Released on 25 August 2016.

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A Manual for Cleaning Women

Selected Stories

4.17 based on 8265 ratings & 1306 reviews on Goodreads.com

Synopsis

The New York Times bestseller

'This selection of 43 stories should by all rights see Lucia Berlin as lauded as Jean Rhys or Raymond Carver' Independent

The stories in A Manual for Cleaning Women make for one of the most remarkable unsung collections in twentieth-century American fiction.

With extraordinary honesty and magnetism, Lucia Berlin invites us into her rich, itinerant life: the drink and the mess and the pain and the beauty and the moments of surprise and of grace. Her voice is uniquely witty, anarchic and compassionate. Celebrated for many years by those in the know, she is about to become - a decade after her death - the writer everyone is talking about. The collection will be introduced by Lydia Davis.

'With Lucia Berlin we are very far away from the parlours of Boston and New York and quite far away, too, from the fiction of manners, unless we are speaking of very bad manners . . . The writer Lucia Berlin most puts me in mind of is the late Richard Yates.' LRB, 1999

In the media

Berlin was underrecognized during her life-she died in 2004 at age 68-but A Manual for Cleaning Women, a collection of her work edited by Stephen Emerson and with a foreword by Lydia Davis, should correct that. These 43 stories, mostly published from the 1960s to the '80s, illuminate a gritty world where pink-collar workers seek illegal abortions, endure unwanted caresses from strange men and scavenge for pennies to nurse their addictions . . . Infused with Berlin's caustic humor and a sense of self-discovery . . . the most touching stories have fun with the foreboding.
Time
Full of humor and tenderness and emphatic grace . . . Those not lucky enough to have yet encountered the writing of Lucia Berlin are in for some high-grade pleasure when they make first contact.
Washington Post
Berlin's stories . . . alternate between light and dark so seamlessly and suddenly that a certain emotion barely fades before you feel something abruptly different . . . The result is a fictional world of wide-ranging impact, a powerful chiaroscuro that manages to encompass the full spectrum of human experience . . . [Berlin] deserves to be ranked alongside Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, and Anton Chekhov. She excels at pacing, structure, dialogue, characterization, description, and every other aspect of the form.
The Boston Globe