Out on 13 April 2023

Very Cold People

Sarah Manguso

13 April 2023
208 pages


Guardian's Best Fiction of 2022
'Chilling . . . deeply impressive' - Guardian
'A masterclass in unease' - The Observer
'One of the most original and exciting writers working in English today' - Jhumpa Lahiri

Once home to the country's most illustrious families, Waitsfield, Massachusetts, is now an unforgiving place awash with secrets. Forged in this frigid landscape, Ruthie learns how the town's prim facade conceals a deeper, darker history and how silence often masks a legacy of harm - from the violence that runs down the family line to the horrors endured by her high school friends. In this jewel of a novel Sarah Manguso reveals the suffocating constraints of growing up in a very old, and very cold, small town. Here lies a vital confrontation with an all-American whiteness where the ice of emotional restraint meets the embers of smouldering rage . . .

Longlisted for the Wingate Prize 2023

A masterclass in unease
'My parents didn’t belong in Waitsfield, but they moved there anyway.’ So opens Manguso’s crystalline, mordant first novel about who belongs and who doesn’t in a declining Massachusetts town, as fortunes and status ebb and arrivistes displace the WASP gentry. Ruthie, the protagonist, has never felt at home in her hometown, and often wonders why; like other New England communities, Waitsfield hides its secrets well, until they erupt with a vengeance. Manguso puts her own indelible stamp on the literary terrain of John Cheever and Susan Minot, daring to brush against the third rail of class.
Magnificent . . . I hope all my fellow reader friends can find their way to this title either through their local library or independent bookseller. It is indeed special.