cover image After the Sun

After the Sun

Jonas Eika, trans. from the Danish by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg. Riverhead, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-0-593-32910-8

Five surreal, globe-spanning stories shape Eika’s startling English-language debut. The collection begins and ends with stories named “Bad Mexican Dog,” each of which recounts the travails of an otherworldly beach boy and the Cancún tourists he exploits and vice versa. In “Alvin,” an unnamed IT specialist scarred by his ex-wife’s abandonment embarks upon an illusive and homoerotic friendship with an eccentric derivatives trader while on assignment in Denmark. In “Rachel, Nevada,” a man mourning the deaths of his two daughters self-mutilates in ritualistic communion with a piece of alien shrapnel found in the desert. In “Me, Rory and Aurora,” a homeless woman inserts herself in the lives of a drug-dealing couple about to have a baby. Studded with shockingly visceral images (“Suddenly his windpipe popped out of the wet flesh, distended and fluted with cartilage”), these lyrical stories are preoccupied with a sense of psychosexual loneliness that penetrates even the most absurd moments of escapism. Eika’s fusing of the magic realist mode with the alienation of modernity makes for a winning formula. Agent: Astri von Arbin Ahlander, Ahlander Agency. (Aug.)