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Karate Chop: Stories (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback)) Paperback – February 4, 2014


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Karate Chop: Stories (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback)) + The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography
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Product Details

  • Series: Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555976654
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555976651
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Acclaimed Danish novelist Nors could not have picked a more appropriate title for her new collection. These stories are swift and unexpected and bruising. Nors’ insight into the strange nuances of human interactions, especially those rooted in violence or sorrow, is keen to the point of vivisection. In the span of two pages, she is able to both build and unmake a character, achieving the same complexity that other writers require entire novels to establish. What’s more, her protagonists are familiar and unsettling, with characteristics that echo in our psyches and ask us to call into question all we assume about ourselves and others. Karate Chop is the first of Nors’ books to be translated to English but certainly won’t be the last. Lovers of the art of literary fiction, students of psychology, and everyone looking for a quick, thought-provoking read should all indulge themselves in the subversive delight of this short story collection. --Amber Peckham

Review

Praise for Karate Chop
 
"Unsettling and poetic. . . . Some pieces, like one about a four-pound tomato, are oddly beautiful; others are brilliantly disturbing." —The New York Times Book Review
 
"The short-stories in Danish sensation Dorthe Nors's slim, potent collection, Karate Chop . . . evoke the weirdness and wonder of relating in the digital age." —Vogue
 
"The intricately crafted stories in Karate Chop, from popular Danish writer Dorthe Nors, focus on ordinary occurrences . . . and then twist them into brilliantly slanted cautionary tales about desire, romance, deception, and dread." —ELLE
 
"In this slim collection of stories, the Danish Nors examines everyday issues with intensity and force." —Marie Claire
 
"Spare and sublime. Author Dorthe Nors knows how to capture the smallest moments and sculpt them into the unforgettable." —Oprah.com
 
"Dorthe Nors illuminates an ominous world of disconnected people trying to make sense of their dislocation. . . . Nors' affectless, matter-of-fact storytelling—crisply translated from the original Danish by Martin Aitken—is the perfect complement to the low-wattage desperation and inertia her characters feel." —Los Angeles Times
 
"Nors's prose is direct . . . a series of uncluttered and voice-driven sentences that achieve their rhythm through careful juxtaposition and build. . . . One hopes Nors's novels are translated into English soon, and that they show as much promise as her short stories." —Chicago Tribune
"Not dissimilar to the melancholic interior scenes painted by Vilhelm Hammershi, numerous films by Thomas Vinterberg, and even the churning sounds of composer Niels Gade, these stories look underneath deceptively quiet surfaces, finding undercurrents that may never fully express themselves but repetitively hint at their constant presence. . . . Peppered with themes of memory, violence, loss, and separation, these pages quietly announce a confident and valuable new voice in translated fiction." —The Daily Beast

"Karate Chop is a collection of brittle, blackly comic, and quietly explosive stories that provide snapshots of modern Danish life and home at daring angles to highlight the quirks, agonies, and vulnerabilities of the human condition." —Star Tribune

"The stories in Karate Chop are as tremendous as they are brief. . . . With each story weighing in at a mere four or five pages, Nors doesn't waste any time delivering a knockout." —Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review

"Exceptional. . . . Nors is adroit at offering powerful summation at the precise moment with a single cutting phrase or an unexpected observation. These brief stories provide universal insight into an everyday, modern existence." —The Rumpus

"Precisely crafted and melancholy stories. . . . Karate Chop displays admirable willingness to take on difficult stories, and Dorthe Nors tells these difficult stories very well." —New York Journal of Books
"These very short works . . . are as sharp-edged, destructive, and intentionally made as the title suggests. Nowhere here is a word out of place. Imagine Grace Paley with more than a little of Mary Gaitskill's keen eye for the despair and violence of sex, mixed with an otherness that's unsettlingly odd and vivid." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
"These stores are swift and unexpected and bruising. . . . In the span of two pages, [Nors] is able to both build and unmake a character, achieving the same complexity that other writers require entire novels to establish. . . . [Everyone should] indulge in the subversive delight of [Karate Chop]." —Booklist
 
"Arresting. . . . These amuse-bouches are a fine introduction to [Nors's] work." —Kirkus Reviews
 
"Dorthe Nors is a writer of moments—quiet, raw portraits of existential mediation, at times dyspeptic, but never unsympathetic." —Justin Alvarez, Paris Review Daily
 
"Beautiful, faceted, haunting stories. . . . Dorthe Nors is fantastic. . . . a rising star of Danish letters." —Junot Diaz, author of This Is How You Lose Her
 
“Readers of Nors’s stories are reminded of the thrills and dangers of living: never are we far from the dark undercurrent—nor exempt from the demands—of routine existence. Memories, laughter, a gesture: everything casts a shadow, meaningful or mysterious. These stories prove that no loss is too small, and each moment counts.” —Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
 
"This collection is a marvel—droll, compassionate, and just really smart. It takes only one story—and really just a paragraph—to note the excellence of this work in its unsentimental and forthright account of people slogging through their lives." —Fiona Maazel, author of Woke Up Lonely

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By k. on March 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
When Nors is at her best-- in stories like "Female Killers" and "Mother, Grandmother and Aunt Ellen"-- there is a chill that comes from the page, the unmistakable sensation of being captured by a unique talent who will not let the reader pass unscathed.

Any attempt at describing the fifteen stories in this short book-- and their overwhelming and powerful collective effect-- is a task that is nigh on impossible. Nors is a sui generis writer who simply must be experienced.

Many thanks to A Public Space and Graywolf for bringing a new and important talent to American shores!
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Format: Paperback
Strange and twisted characters, the vivid but often sinister lives they inhabit in their imaginations, and their almost universal preoccupation with death make this collection of short stories compelling, even mesmerizing, despite the sense of menace lurking within each story. The characters all appear on the surface to be “just like us,” ordinary people with similar sensibilities and familiar goals for the future, but as they develop during the fifteen unusually short stories in this collection, Danish author Dorthe Nors slowly and subtly reveals how off-kilter they really are. Virtually all these characters are lonely and unloved, craving companionship, if not a lover, and they depend on their imaginations to provide the excitement which is missing from their real lives.

In the title story, “Karate Chop,” the main character, Annelise, works with children who have psychological problems and learning difficulties, and as she reflects on her own life, she does so from a psychological perspective. As she is analyzing her inner life, the reader is analyzing her behavior, recognizing how far she is from knowing who she is and how much she is manipulated by her lover. “Any individual you happened to meet was nothing but a potential,” she asserts, explaining her philosophy, “an outline to be colored in and assigned content…The [outline] could never be lifelike, and for that reason you reached a point where you began to [color] outside the lines,” as one does with a children’s coloring book. Just how far one character can go in “coloring outside the lines” becomes the main plot of most of these stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lyrical on April 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These are the shortest short stories I have read ( 15 in 88 pages ). The writing is sparse and the stories are dark but I was intrigued.
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By r.a. on May 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Short, quick jabs at contemporary life and society. The one about the non-profit and the Buddhist was a particular favorite.
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