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Reviews of Craft by Ananda Lima

Craft by Ananda Lima

Craft

Stories I Wrote for the Devil

by Ananda Lima
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  • Jun 18, 2024
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Book Summary

Strange, intimate, haunted, and hungry―Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil is an intoxicating and surreal fiction debut by award-winning author Ananda Lima.

At a Halloween party in 1999, a writer slept with the devil. She sees him again and again throughout her life and she writes stories for him about things that are both impossible and true.

Lima lures readers into surreal pockets of the United States and Brazil where they'll find bite-size Americans in vending machines and the ghosts of people who are not dead. Once there, she speaks to modern Brazilian-American immigrant experiences–of ambition, fear, longing, and belonging―and reveals the porousness of storytelling and of the places we call home.

With humor, an exquisite imagination, and a voice praised as "singular and wise and fresh" (Cathy Park Hong), Lima joins the literary lineage of Bulgakov and Lispector and the company of writers today like Ted Chiang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

RAPTURE

You probably can't tell by looking at me now, but once, back in my twenties, I slept with the Devil. We met at a Halloween party in a closed-down store space in Manhattan, Union Square, in 1981. I was nursing my third Snake Bite in the corner. Silhouettes danced to "Memorabilia," backlit by a makeshift red-and-blue-neon installation stuck to a crumbling brick wall. The Devil was sitting alone on a beat-up brown corduroy sofa. I was inauguration Nancy Reagan: a tighter version of the red Adolfo dress, black gloves, a wig between chestnut brown and dirty blond, topped with a red pillbox hat. He wore an ill-fitting suit, a faded orange wig, and some bad foundation. I walked up to him and asked what he was, yelling over the music. He said he was the future. I told him his costume sucked. He smiled and said he was often misunderstood, scanning the room as if hoping for a specific somebody else to show up. I began spinning the first thread of his story: a woman in a white dress, a ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

There is humor in how matter-of-fact the narration is when personifying the devil. Lima's characterization is both funny and believable, such as, "[t]he Devil loved the DMV." This is balanced with beautiful, poignant reflections. The writer contemplates how it feels to grow up, and the nostalgia one experiences when looking at old pictures: "How those silly nights feel like some freaky moving Escher picture of a mountain peak appearing to get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, but somehow still there in its full size." In moments like these, readers see Ananda Lima is a poet at heart...continued

Full Review Members Only (496 words)

(Reviewed by Lisa Ahima).

Media Reviews

Chicago Review of Books
A perfect balance of humor, heart, and hauntedness.... I expect Craft to immediately put Lima in the company of writers like Carmen Maria Machado, Kelly Link, and Samanta Schweblin.

Reactor
A series of surrealist, spooky, sexy tales that are completely unpredictable and utterly fascinating. Using a unique blend of horror and literary weirdness, Lima's work discusses what it means to belong (or not) in another land, to search for home, and to discover who the devil might really be.

The Kenyon Review
Here is a collection of stories that not only delights in its ability to subvert the reader's expectations but also leaves one haunted.

Restless Books
A wild and surrealistic story collection that pays homage to Kafka and Cortázar, Ananda Lima's Craft seeks to disrupt reductive understandings of both the immigrant experience and the art and craft of writing.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Will delight readers crushed under the weight of the contemporary world.

Library Journal (starred review)
One of the most original and unforgettable reads of the year.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A terrific fiction debut... The stories, and the stories within those stories, connect to some of the cruelest portions of the human experience with uncommon warmth and wit.

Booklist
This collection explores everything from the unique experiences of loss, fear, and disconnection felt by Brazilian immigrants to the U.S. to the frustrating pain of being a writer or photographer in an increasingly corporate, dystopian world.

Author Blurb Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke
Sophisticated and totally engrossing, Ananda Lima's Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil is easily one of the most innovative works I've read in quite some time. Interlocked stories form a cohesive and unique vision in this haunting collection from an astounding new voice.

Author Blurb Julia Fine, author of What Should Be Wild
I was blown away by Ananda Lima's Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil. Propulsive, uncanny, and expertly built, Craft unearths truths about fiction writing, the contemporary immigrant experience, and what it means to live a life of art, all in the clean, marvelous prose of a decorated poet.

Author Blurb Kelly Link, author of The Book of Love
My only problem with this book is the title, and that's because I love it so much. Ananda Lima didn't write these stories for the Devil, she wrote them for me! An absolutely thrilling reminder that short stories can be the best kind of magic, conjuring up not only the devil, but real emotion, real surprise, real strangeness.

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Beyond the Book



The Devil Personified: How He Shapeshifts in Literature

Jackets of books mentioned in the articleThe Hebrew word "Satan" can be translated as "adversary," or "accuser," so in his nomenclature, he wasn't exactly set up for success. Satan, or the devil, is a figure who has origins in Abrahamic religions, well-known in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Conceptually, he has been depicted as a fallen angel, ghoulishly evil, as both an agent of and literary foil for God. Satan is so pervasive in religion and culture that it would be impossible to summarize how this character/being has altered history over time. However, it is interesting to view Satan through a postmodernist, contemporary lens. Ananda Lima's short story collection, Craft, presents the devil as a vehicle to teach a lesson, as a lover, and as a sympathizer. Here are some other...

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