cover image Indelicacy


Amina Cain. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (176p) ISBN 978-0-374-14837-9

Cain (Creature) upends fairy tale endings in her stimulating story of insidious oppression. Vitória works as a cleaner at an art museum in an unnamed large, modern city, skips meals to afford simple splurges like a nice blouse, and yearns almost compulsively for the time and freedom to write about art. She commiserates with her lazy co-worker Antoinette, who longs for a husband. When Vitória marries a rich man, she glides into a life of ease only marred by quiet clashes with her cold housekeeper. Her husband does not understand the unfocused, self-reflective observations she finally has time to write, but pampers her with everything she wants. Vitória feels naggingly unsatisfied and starts ballet lessons, where she befriends the most promising student, Dana. Vitória’s sense of being stifled increases when she reconnects with Antoinette, now happily married to a poor man, and watches Dana move into professional dancing roles. She hatches a devious plot to achieve a different kind of freedom. Vitória’s deadpan voice and Cain’s finespun descriptions of quotidian disappointment energize this incisive tale. This novel disquiets with its potent, swift human dramas. (Feb.)