An enthralling debut novel by Governor General’s Literary Awards finalist Maria Mutch that is an inventive exploration of time, absence, and desire.
I feel in some strange place.
In late January 2010, choreographer Molly Volkova has a seizure on a crowded Manhattan sidewalk.
As Molly experiences the singularity of the seizure over the course of seven minutes, she is haunted by her past: memories of love and infidelity, thoughts of her family and her work, and of the city itself. She also reflects on the disappearance of a lover she last saw ten years earlier, his sister, and the secrets that connect all three of them.
Flickering through time and space and from character to character, Molly Falls to Earth forms a constellation around the spot where Molly lies on the edge of Washington Square Park. Interwoven throughout are documentary segments featuring the voices of others who search for the lost, obsessed with those who have gone missing.
With her extraordinary ability to capture the unimaginable, Maria Mutch takes us deep into a stormy world in which people disappear without going anywhere, and appear to be present while travelling vast distances.
“One of the most idiosyncratic memoirs I’ve ever read. . . . Superb writing and linguistic flair.”
— PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
"Intriguing, intelligent, and unsettling in all the best ways, this dazzling debut collection is unlike anything you’ve read before. I wish I’d written this book!"
— DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN, author of This Is Not My Life
"An impressive debut for author Maria Mutch, whose literary memoir maintains that magical balance between lyricism and realism. . . . Very universal and lovely, and utterly worth the read."
— THE MASTERS REVIEW
"Wise . . . a compassionate picture."
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"An exhibition of literary eloquence, a tale set in darkness, but filled with light, and a moving debut memoir about maternal love—its beauty and strength, its complications and contradictions, and most importantly, its boundlessness."
“Know the Night appears like an aurora borealis in the book firmament.”
— HALIFAX CHRONICLE HERALD
“A wholly original debut collection of short fiction [that] deconstructs and reimagines the short story, in much the same way Anne Carson’s work reimagines the possibilities of the poetic form. . . . The collection as a whole is a fierce and often brutal examination of personal transformation, rendered visceral and gorgeous by Mutch’s exceeding talent and focus on the body. . . . Mutch channels the dark arts of Angela Carter, combining elements of gruesome fairy tale, an emphasis on the corporeal and a critical feminist lens on the world. . . . These are stories that thrum with weird, otherworldly power. Reading When We Were Birds is like peering too long into the sun, to the moment your vision blurs and the world takes on a dangerously surreal and mortal beauty.”
— TORONTO STAR
“A collection of fairy tales for grown-ups. Maria Mutch’s short stories contain a touch of whimsical—but undeniably dark—magic. Think more Grimm folklore than Disney Technicolor. . . . the perfect precursor to drifting into dreamworld.”
— ALEXANDRA DONALDSON, Canadian Living
“Promises to bring to mind fable, romance, eroticism and a touch of magical realism—yes please!”
— ALEXANDRA DONALDSON, Canadian Living
“There are moments of heartrending grief, such as when Gabriel says his last words . . . but it's Mutch herself, revealing her struggle to survive as a person, that leaves you astonished.”
“From Joyce to Woolf to Ambrose Bierce, the challenge of expressing the infinite multitude that inhabits any single human minute persists. In this earthy, wry, passionate, and unexpected novel, Mutch dances us with a new choreography of the heart. It’s a beautiful, symphonic piece of work, at once grounded and fully electric.”
— CLAUDIA CASPER, author of The Mercy Journals
“The presiding spirit of [this] collection is Ovid singing of souls transformed to bodies new and strange. . . . read[s] like fragments of Angela Carter fairy tales.”
— LITERARY REVIEW OF CANADA
“You’ll be rewarded with the sense that the self is a miraculous catastrophe. . . . [Know the Night is] riveting, breathtaking.”
Praise for When We Were Birds
Praise for Know the Night
Praise for Molly Falls to Earth
“Beautiful and breathtakingly expansive, Molly Falls to Earth captures the delicate and dramatic pull of relationships in a city that swallows people up and hides them in plain sight. The beauty of great art and choreography, the unfillable voids and grand seizures that rule us, and the fragile and tough connections of human relationships are distilled here in perfect prose. An absolutely resplendent novel.”
— MARJAN KAMALI, author of The Stationery Shop
"[A] hopeful story . . . absorbing and creatively rendered.”
— KIRKUS REVIEWS
"A beautiful, singular book, one that someone who’s planning, say, a prolonged stay in a godforsaken place might consider bringing along so they don’t feel quite so alone."
— THE GLOBE AND MAIL
“Highly imaginative. . . . quizzical and melancholy . . . eerily au courant.”
— QUILL & QUIRE
"[A] poetic, elegant, and intense account.”
“Mutch’s prose is electric.”
— NATIONAL POST