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A ghostly feminist fable, Amina Cain’s Indelicacy is the story of a woman navigating between gender and class roles to empower herself and fulfill her dreams.
In ‘a strangely ageless world somewhere between Emily Dickinson and David Lynch’ (Blake Butler), a cleaning woman at a museum of art nurtures aspirations to do more than simply dust the paintings around her. She dreams of having the liberty to explore them in writing, and so must find a way to win herself the time and security to use her mind. She escapes her lot by marrying a rich man, but having gained a husband, a house, high society and a maid, she finds that her new life of privilege is no less constrained. Not only has she taken up different forms of time-consuming labor—social and erotic—but she is now, however passively, forcing other women to clean up after her. Perhaps another and more drastic solution is necessary?
Reminiscent of a lost Victorian classic in miniature, yet taking equal inspiration from such modern authors as Jean Rhys, Octavia Butler, Clarice Lispector and Jean Genet, Amina Cain’s Indelicacy is at once a ghost story without a ghost, a fable without a moral and a down-to-earth investigation of the barriers faced by women in both life and literature. It is a novel about seeing, class, desire, anxiety, pleasure, friendship and the battle to find one’s true calling.
‘There’s something calmly erotic about Cain’s writing, a treatment of sex as both a source of energy and a supremely unfascinating part of life.’
‘There are no stakes, no rising action, no arc. Just a wild kind of lostness that’s as alluring as it is unsettling.’
‘Cain takes a lot of risks in her book by redefining plot and creating so many narrators who are unknowable and generally unfamiliar. But the risks pay off in sheer beauty, and in Creature, she has created a beautiful monster indeed.’
‘In Indelicacy we meet a woman who spends time studying landscape paintings and then walking inside the landscapes where she lives. She looks at a landscape then moves inside another, and as we read it begins to seem that the landscapes in paintings and in fiction are eerily the same. In a deeply pleasing way, reading this novel is a bit like standing in a painting, a masterful study of light and dark, inside and out, freedom and desire. Amina Cain is one of my favorite writers. I loved reading this book.’
‘With simplicity and wisdom, Amina Cain’s Indelicacy strips away the clutter of the modern novel, leaving only her narrator’s concentrated attention and yearning. As a tribute to the history of its own form, Indelicacy manages to expand our ideas of both the classic and the contemporary.’
‘Acutely observed, Indelicacy is an exquisite jewel box of a novel with the passion and vitality found only in such rare and necessary works as The Hour of the Star and The Days of Abandonment. Through this timeless examination of solitude, art and friendship, Amina Cain announces herself as one of the most intriguing writers of our time.’
‘Indelicacy is a novel like the tolling of a great bell. It will move your heart. Amina Cain’s writing is the rarest kind: it creates not only new scenes and characters, but new feelings.’
‘Bewitching…Cain’s concentrated, subtle, and intriguing portrait of an evolving artist resolutely rejecting gender and class roles, with its subtle nods to Jean Rhys, Clarice Lispector, and Octavia Butler, explores the risks and rewards of a call to create and self-liberate.’
‘With its short, spare sentences, Cain’s writing seems simple on the surface―but it is deeply observant of the human condition, female friendships, and art. A short, elegant tale about female desire and societal expectations.’
‘Amina Cain redefines strangeness and freedom in this beautiful and unusual novel, which resembles fairy tales and ghost stories but feels intensely contemporary.’
‘Amina Cain’s diligence, patience, and clarity of vision are unparalleled. This is a writer profoundly aware of the impact and import of silence. Her sentences echo long after they’ve landed on the page.’
‘I was spellbound by Amina Cain’s Indelicacy, partly because it is a lucid novel about human relationships, the soul, art, and change; partly because it is an intelligent yet raw tale about what ruptures are required to grow room for oneself; partly because of its witty juxtaposition of good and bad; but mostly because it is deeply original, like nothing I’ve ever read before.’
‘Reading Amina Cain’s Indelicacy is akin to donning magnifying spectacles that distill a woman’s past into modern reality. These lucid and uncanny lenses remain on the eye far beyond her pages.’