From an award-winning debut writer, a beautiful and unapologetic collection of stories about women’s unexpressed desires and needs, and the unexpected ways they resurface
In “Floor Plans,” a woman at the end of her marriage tests her power when she inadvertently befriends the neighbor trying to buy her apartment. In “Appetite,” a sixteen-year old grieving her mother’s death experiences first love and questions how much more heartbreak she and her family can endure. In “Dinosaurs,” a recent widower and a young babysitter help each other navigate how much they have to give—and how much they can take—from the people around them.
Through stories that are at once empathetic and unexpected, these women and girls defiantly push the boundaries between selfishness and self-possession. Fantastically written with a fresh voice and bold honesty, Back Talk examines the cultural narrowness of what it means to want as a woman.
PRAISE FOR BACK TALK
"Lazarin’s exceptional debut collection digs deep into the lives of women, telling complex stories of loss, hope, and joy...Lazarin’s work is confident and exhilarating; this auspicious collection is uniformly excellent."
—Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review
“Brilliant and tender… With poignant imagery and a fresh voice, Lazarin[’s] exceptional craftsmanship speaks to the heart, as the paints these tales with empathy and a compassion that extends to all humankind.”
—Booklist, Starred Review
One of Library Journal’s New Writers To Watch
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“Danielle Lazarin’s Back Talk is deceptively quiet but packs a powerful punch—much like the girls and women in its pages. The stories in this collection batter at the boundaries of female desire—not just for sex, but for intimacy, for visibility, for agency. They talk back to the idea that stories about women are ‘domestic,’ burrowing deep to find wildness and a smoldering fury beneath. The best collection I’ve read in years, from a phenomenal new talent.”
—Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
“The stories in Back Talk are not only fierce and unflinching in their clear-eyed portrayal of women and girls, they are also tender and compassionate, imbued with a deep longing. Lazarin is a sophisticated writer and her remarkable debut offers us subtle but profound truths about growing up, moving forward, and finding ourselves.”
—Edan Lepucki, New York Times bestselling author of California
“I fell in love with these elegant, beguiling tales. They’re about young women, but they are for everyone, whatever gender, whatever age, so universal is their poignant take on life and loving and loneliness, too. Reading Lazarin’s writing is like having a great friend in the room, telling you something that you know you need to hear, and telling it to you brilliantly.”
—Robin Black, nationally bestselling author of Life Drawing
“These are wonderful stories—sparkling, witty, and tender, riding that sweet spot between urbane and vulnerable, between hilarity and heartbreak—all those impossible contradictions that remind us of what love is like. Lazarin’s astonishing insight and craftsmanship put me in mind of short story masters like Beattie and Baxter. I think she’s destined for the big leagues.”
—Dan Chaon, New York Times bestselling author of Ill Will
“Back Talk offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of the contemporary family in a state of creative destruction, flying apart and simultaneously reconstituting itself in new forms. Danielle Lazarin guides us through the varied permutations of her extended, blended families with insightful wit, surpassing empathy and wry wisdom.”
—Peter Ho Davies, author of The Fortunes
“Misfits and mess-ups, dreamers and delinquents, kids chafing at adolescence and adults failing at parenthood—it’s easy to see yourself in Danielle Lazarin’s characters. But these stories, like all good stories, aren’t a mirror: they’re a window that shows us the whole world.”
—Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty
"I absolutely loved this book—from the first page to the last, this collection is stunning for its insight into the lives of young women, revelatory for its finely tuned prose, and unforgettable for its humor and tenderness. I will return to these stories again and again. I envy the reader who gets to discover Danielle Lazarin's work."
—Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
“Smart, sharp, well-paced stories—worlds of their own that circle life and loss with humor, wit, and sparkling intelligence.”
—Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise and Almost Famous Women
“Thank God, a collection of stories about women who don’t hate themselves, don’t hate other women, don’t hate their bodies, don’t hate their husbands, or even their ex-husbands, don’t hate their sisters, their mothers, their fathers, their children. Women who sometimes choose to have sex and sometimes choose not to. Women who are simply, like me, trying to figure out what it means to be alive, to be in love, to be daughters, parents, siblings, wives, citizens, human beings. I hope Danielle Lazarin writes a million more stories like the ones in Back Talk so I can keep reading her work forever.”
—Eileen Pollack, author of A Perfect Life