You Will Never Be Forgotten
Shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection 2021
‘Wickedly, exquisitely hilarious’ – Alexandra Kleeman
‘Open-source desire, self-replicating fantasy’ – Tom McCarthy
‘A brilliant and brilliantly strange and strangely funny and menacing debut!’ – Sam Lipsyte
In this provocative, bitingly funny debut collection, people attempt to use technology to escape their uncontrollable feelings of grief, rage or despair, only to reveal their most flawed and human selves.
An architect draws questionable inspiration from her daughter’s birth defect. A content moderator for ‘the world’s biggest search engine’, who spends her days culling videos of beheadings and suicides, turns from stalking her rapist online to following him in real life. At a camp for recovering internet trolls, a sensitive misfit goes missing. A wounded mother raises the second incarnation of her child.
In You Will Never Be Forgotten, Mary South explores how technology can both collapse our relationships from within and provide opportunities for genuine connection. Formally inventive, darkly absurdist, savagely critical of the increasingly fraught cultural climates we inhabit, these ten stories also find hope in fleeting interactions and moments of tenderness. They reveal our grotesque selfishness and our intense need for love and acceptance, and the psychic pain that either shuts us off or allows us to discover the greatest depths of empathy. This incendiary debut marks the arrival of a perceptive, idiosyncratic, instantly recognizable voice in fiction – one that could only belong to Mary South.
[An] edgily brilliant debut collection . . . Bringing together emotion and technology, South’s stories are comfortless but very sharp.
[A] brilliantly biting debut . . . In a world that is more ‘connected’ than ever, loneliness is still endemic, hearts break, and melancholy and rage win out over the cool disinterest of machines every time.
Weird and often wonderful . . . a joltingly strange critique of the contemporary moment.