Fugue States begins as Ash Dhar, a thirty-something writer, opens his mouth to deliver a eulogy at a funeral—the funeral for his own father, a Kashmir-born doctor. But in that moment between thought and speech, something mysterious occurs: a terrible wordless gap into which Ash falls helplessly, recovering only as the concerned faces of friends and family shock him into focus. Later, still unsettled as he sorts through his father’s belongings, Ash discovers a partially completed and baffling work of fiction set in what seems to be Kashmir. Reading his father’s words, Ash feels compelled to know more about this ancestral land—and yet he resists the impulse to visit, loathe to be a cliché, chasing self-discovery in a war-torn homeland. But Ash’s childhood friend Matt— pothead, massage therapy student and selfdescribed “maker of memories”—has no such hesitations and goes in Ash’s place . . . with unexpected and excruciating results. Soon, Ash is forced to rescue Matt by following him to India— where he experiences a second alarming gap, one that echoes and amplifies the mysterious “fugue state” with which the novel began.
Fugue States is at once a parody of clueless tourism; a knowing, uneasy look at contemporary masculinity; and a surprisingly poignant tale about the deep inchoate melancholy that abides in people who, like Ash and his father, and even Matt-the-fool, have never felt completely at home in the world.
PASHA MALLA is the author of five works of poetry and fiction, including the story collection The Withdrawal Method and the novel People Park. His work has won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, the Trillium Book Prize, an Arthur Ellis Award and several National Magazine awards. It has also been shortlisted for the Amazon.ca Best First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Prize (Best First Book, Canada & Caribbean), and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Pasha is a monthly books columnist for The Globe and Mail, and a regular contributor to Newyorker.com, The Walrus and CBC Radio. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
PRAISE FOR PEOPLE PARK:
“In an effective commentary on social class, Malla conveys lives and stories with quick, deft sketches.” —The Globe and Mail
“Malla is a fabulously gifted writer and People Park showcases all of his gifts. The various vernaculars spoken by the characters are a consistent delight. . . . His descriptions of the devastation that serves as a backdrop to much of the novel’s second half are very fine. . . . Malla can do everything well.” —Publishers Weekly
PRAISE FOR THE WITHDRAWAL METHOD:
“These stories are weird and wild and wonderful. Funny, too. Pasha Malla has a deft touch.” —David Bergen
“An astonishing and bizarre mix. . . . Pasha Malla is an impressive young voice that gives one hope for a future of new Canadian writing talent.” —The Globe and Mail
“Expertly handled. . . . disturbingly credible. . . . [Pasha Malla] never falters with various children’s points of view, and his development of these uncontrived plots is seamless. . . . These are strong stories that confront complex, irresolvable moral problems. Definitely worth reading.” —Matrix
“Malla’s style is sharp and funny. . . . Malla manages to make us chuckle at the absurdity of life. . . . The collection is amusing and affecting, an accomplished first book by a writer to watch.” —NOW
“Pasha Malla’s debut collection signals the arrival of a talented newcomer to Canadian fiction.” —The Gazette
“At first glance, Pasha Malla’s intriguing first short-fiction collection, The Withdrawal Method, seems like a mishmash of narrative oddities. . . . But long after I had finished reading them, Malla’s stories . . . resonated in my mind, revealing his tenacious skill. . . . [T]he stories include an astonishing range of ideas about love, relationships, family and culture, to name just a few. What is most alluring about Malla’s writing is his unfailing ability to grasp the fallibility of his characters as they try to do the right thing, fail, and then go on. Sophisticated and unpretentious, Malla’s approach shows endless empathy for his characters. Like David Foster Wallace and Rick Moody, Malla often asks painful questions, revealing equally painful truths. . . . Each story of The Withdrawal Method has been carefully layered to affect the reader in a . . . subtle and profound way, making a lasting impression with its integrity and narrative skill.” —Quill & Quire
“For my money one of the best young writers in Canada.” —Mark Medley, Torontoist
“Canadian author Pasha Malla is writing some of the best short stories in anglophone literature today. Seeing as we’re experiencing a surge of great story collections . . . that’s saying something. . . . I don’t really know how Malla gets away with what he does. . . . But it is astounding to watch him do it. And the comedy is very, very dark. It’s also powerful and moving.” —Jeff Parker, The Rumpus