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All the Names They Used for God: Stories Hardcover – February 20, 2018
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“All the Names They Used for God fuses science, myth, and imagination into a dark and gorgeous series of questions about our current predicaments. Anjali Sachdeva is a fascinating storyteller, willing to push her inventiveness as far as it will go, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.”—Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See
“Every once in a while you read a book with such power, craft, and originality that you know instantly that a new and important voice has arrived on the scene. This is that book.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club
“Each of these stories is a perfect diorama: scrupulously assembled, complex, unsettling. Completing one is like having lived an entire life, and then being born, breathless, into another.”—Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
“Anjali Sachdeva is a sorcerer, and these stories are magic. They are so skillfully told, and so absorbing, that they pass as swiftly as a song, yet they linger in the memory like a novel. I read them with total immersion and delight, and not a little envy.”—Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Illumination
“With this book Anjali Sachdeva moves literature forward a notch, and moves the short story form a full revolution. Yes, it’s that good—fresh, original, and moving. The prose is gorgeous and the characters still linger with me. I love this book.”—Chris Offutt, author of My Father, the Pornographer and Kentucky Straight: Stories
“So rich they read like dreams—or, more often, nightmares—the nine stories in Sachdeva’s otherworldly debut center upon the unforgiving forces that determine the shape of our lives. . . . A strikingly unified collection, with each story reading like a poem, or a fable, staring into the unknowable. . . . They are enormous stories, not in length but in ambition, each an entirely new, unsparing world. Beautiful, draining—and entirely unforgettable.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The nine stories in Sachdeva’s intriguing debut collection raise challenging questions about human responses to short-circuited desires. . . . These inventive stories will challenge readers to rethink how people cope with thwarted hopes.”—Publishers Weekly
Praise for “Pleiades”
“Sometimes we read things that are okay. Sometimes we read things that we find important in some way—that we learn from, but that don't particularly get us all riled up. And sometimes we read something that just astounds and grabs. . . . The story seemed to me some kind of small masterpiece.”—Dave Eggers, The Washington Post
Praise for “The World by Night”
“This story genuinely surprised me: in its setting and time period; in its characters and in their actions; in the pervasive feeling of almost uncanniness and accidental loss, of abandonment and beauty.”—Kelly Link, The Iowa Review
About the Author
Anjali Sachdeva’s fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, The Yale Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught writing at the University of Iowa, Augustana College, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pittsburgh. She also worked for six years at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, where she was director of educational programs. She has hiked through the backcountry of Canada, Iceland, Kenya, Mexico, and the United States, and spent much of her childhood reading fantasy novels and waiting to be whisked away to an alternate universe. Instead, she lives in Pittsburgh, which is pretty wonderful as far as places in this universe go. This is her first book.
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By far, though, my very favorite story is “Logging Lake,” which I’ve already reread many times, a realistic, terrifying, and funny tale about a sad sack Bob, who after being dumped by his long-term girlfriend Linda (she leaves him because he won’t go with her to Paris to take on a career as a massage therapist), develops a desperate attempt to prove to himself that he is capable of change. He wants to become "The New Bob." On the rebound, Bob fudges his character profile on an online dating service, claiming to be a nature lover (he only liked to flip through National Geographic magazine), finds a new girlfriend from the dating service named Terri. Bob and Terri take an arduous hike in Glacier National Park and Terri disappears. I cannot ruin the story’s ending. I can only say it is a masterpiece, and I hope “Logging Lake” becomes anthologized.
These powerful stories remind me of James Lasdun’s wonderful collection It’s Beginning to Hurt. I recommend both.
The stories in ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD cover a wide range of emotions and genres, but are all rooted in a certain mystic inner-journey. Anjali Sachdeva skirts with the spiritual, never quite reaching it--I'm not sure if that's even her goal--but coming close. This collection isn't a new classic, and it doesn't necessarily break new ground; but it offers up unique, intriguing moments and images that are well-worth the price of admission, and promise to linger for a long time after reading.
Emotional. Exquisite. Brilliantly written. One of the best short story collections I have ever read.
If you enjoy well crafted short stories without a specific theme linking them other than a small oddity in each one (And a major oddity in the next to last one; the one true Sci-fi story in the book), you'll probably like this. And that may be part of the charm; making significant oddities (Mermaids, Genetic manipulation, Angels, Lovecraft style creatures & more) seem not so odd!
This was offered to me as Sci-fi; so I was originally going to comment at length on that. I can see from this main page the marketing folks are not going there; so I'll limit my comments on that subject to while their is a little bit of Sci-Fi, Horror & Fantasy; it's really a literary collection of enjoyable short stories.
I'm not finding it easy to share the author's pov or theme with you. While it is enjoyable literature, it's not boring academic literature, & it's much more thoughtful than most pop literature. I was reminded of a slightly lighter Harlan Ellison in places (with much less sci-fi). These are definitely well thought out stories.
It will be interesting to see where this author goes next.
Most recent customer reviews
Other reviews say the stories are diverse and wide-ranging and that's actually true!Read more