cover image They Say Sarah

They Say Sarah

Pauline Delabroy-Allard, trans. from the French by Adriana Hunter. Other Press, $15.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-63542-985-5

Delabroy-Allard’s debut is a whirlwind jaunt through two women’s fast-moving love affair. The unnamed narrator, a single mother recently separated from her partner, meets Sarah at a friend’s party in Paris, and the action unspools quickly through a blitz of sex, travel, and emotional turmoil, cascading to a point of no return: Sarah’s simultaneous falling out of love with the narrator and Sarah’s diagnosis of advanced breast cancer sends the narrator reeling. The prose’s short, noirish lines (“The Metro speeds through the darkness. I catch my breath. I swallow the taste of iron, of blood in my mouth”) barrel forward with relentless momentum until the narrator ends up in Italy, bouncing around friends’ apartments. Here, her thoughts stretch into longer and less immediate digressions, as Delabroy-Allard spins up a sudden mystery that haunts the novel’s final moments. The narrator’s obsessing on the torrid effects of a passion abruptly ended (“My fingers still smell like her snatch. I sniff them like a lost soul”) creates a lean alternative to the amplified interrelational tension found in her contemporaries Ottessa Moshfegh and Guadalupe Nettal, with thrilling, if less heady, results. This slim tale will interest fans of French pulp legend Francis Carco. (June)