Medusa’s Ankles

A.S. Byatt. Knopf, $28 (464p) ISBN 978-0-593-32158-4
These stories by Booker winner Byatt (Possession), three of which are previously uncollected, offer a scintillating look at three decades of the author’s work. Her stories transcend genre and stylistic limits, traversing through landscapes fantastical and real, as they bewitch, unnerve, and comfort the reader. “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye” blends the natural and supernatural worlds when a scholar falls in love with a djinn she released from a mysterious bottle from an Istanbul bazaar. “Dolls’ Eyes” oscillates between the real and unreal too, as it follows a schoolteacher with a large collection of dolls, some of which are alive. In a similar vein, “The Lucid Dreamer” presents a man for whom real life and dreams begin to mesh as he struggles to regain his ability to dream while processing the loss of his beloved. Grief resurfaces as a theme in “A Stone Woman,” which blends fantasy and Scandinavian myth with the story of a woman who turns to stone after her mother’s death. “Racine and the Tablecloth” is equally effective in the realist mode, detailing the power dynamics between a student and the vulturine headmistress at an all-girls’ boarding school. Each story showcases Byatt’s exquisite prose and her wide-ranging mastery of the short story form. For the uninitiated, this makes for a perfect entry point. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/15/2021
Release date: 11/23/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-593-32159-1
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