The Isle of Youth journeys through lives mired in secrecy and deception. From a newlywed marooned on honeymoon in Patagonia; to an abandoned tourist in Paris; to a woman who must travel to Antarctica to unpick the secrets of her brother’s death, the characters in these mesmerizing stories are complicated, vulnerable and ruthless, each afflicted by desires which they try to satiate despite never knowing what they truly are.
The stories in this collection are by turns magical and unexpected – with a healthy dose of brutality to keep them anchored in reality. Laura van den Berg tinges her landscapes with a sense of the surreal, inviting readers to recognise – as her characters do – the surprising ways in which the familiar can suddenly reveal its darker contours.
‘The best young writer in America.’ – Salon
‘A fresh, emotive and darkly comic take on the modern US . . . Comparisons to Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore are well founded, with van den Berg’s poignant and funny stories.’ – Irish Times
‘Laura van den Berg mixes a deadpan, droll observational humour with a real sense of the wounded, but still beating, heart inside each of her seven women. They make for fun, and troubling, company.’ – Independent
‘This short story collection by a captivating new voice in American fiction brims with memorable heroines. From this first story to the last – this is an unusually compelling collection.’ – Independent on Sunday
‘A beautiful and compelling read.’ – Ann Patchett
‘Absolutely captivating.’ – Vanity Fair
‘Expertly crafted and utterly assured: they begin by offering a nuanced and mordantly perceptive portrait of a world, or worlds, just like ours, and then they lift off, thrillingly, into the uncanny. You will follow Laura van den Berg’s voice anywhere.’ – Colin Barrett, author of Young Skins
‘A smart, fun, noir-y treasure map of where families hide their secrets and lost souls hide themselves.’ – New York Magazine
‘Uniformly excellent – emotionally complex, very raw – but always with a mixture of pathos and humour that made me think of Lorrie Moore.’ – Dave Eggers