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Zolitude by Paige Cooper


Zolitude by Paige Cooper


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Fantastical, magnetic, and harsh—these are the women in Paige Cooper’s debut short story collection Zolitude. They are women who built time machines when they were nine, who buy plane tickets for lovers who won’t arrive. They are sisters writhing with dreams, blasé about sex but beggared by love—while the police horses have talons and vengeance is wrought by eagles the size of airplanes. Broken-down motorbikes and housebroken tyrannosaurs, cheap cigarettes and mail bombs—Cooper finds the beautiful and the disturbing in both the surreal and the everyday.

Troubling, carnal, and haunting, these stories are otherworldly travelogues through banal, eco-fabulist dystopias. Zolitude is a gorgeous, sad, and sexy work of slipstream and an atlas of fantastic isolation. The monstrous is human here, and tender.


“[A] spikily surreal debut collection…vivid, complex…brilliant.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Cooper has a keen eye for the quirks of human behavior.” —Publishers Weekly

“[A]cross fourteen stories Cooper builds strange, genre-defying, sci-fi- and fantasy-infused realities that are distinctly her own. Truly, they’re like nothing else you’ve read lately.”  —Toronto Star

“A timely exploration of love and humanity…urgent and energetic.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“Each of Zolitude‘s fourteen stories explores intimacy as a basic need and the ways love can be articulated, perceived, and frustrated. The result is a collection that is often astonishing and occasionally crests the extraordinary.” —The Walrus

“Rarely have love stories seemed less cliché and predictable…tenderness and violence and doom are so densely layered as to deliver the affective impact of a novel…these stories are so well made, so viscerally moving, I often found the need to take a break between them to recover. “—Quill & Quire (starred review)

“Cooper proves that she can do just about anything. She’s as comfortable telling a story from the perspective of a hip young record-label employee… whose hand is blown off by a mail bomb (‘Ryan & Irene, Irene & Ryan’) as she is telling the story of a mounted police officer who lives on the edge of loss and violence (‘The Emperor’) … Readers willing to give themselves over to some mystery will be rewarded.” —Kirkus

“Zolitude is Cooper’s first short story collection, but it reads like the work of a far more seasoned writer. Her stories are painful and wise, ugly and moving, and at their best, reveal uncomfortable truths about human connection and its limits … With each opening paragraph, she pitches us into a new atmosphere, full of gorgeous detail and emotional rawness, a world that feels too real to be a fantasy, or perhaps just fantastic enough to be real.” —Montreal Review of Books

“Exhilarating.” —Calgary Herald

“Daring, endlessly inventive, cryptic, sometimes eerie…By eluding our grasp time and time again, Cooper’s stories challenge us to put aside our misgivings, to follow their lead, to forget how we think fiction should behave and give ourselves over to something unapologetically strange and disquieting…Weird, unsettling fiction may be nothing new, but rarely do we encounter a writer who renders their peculiar creative universe with such clarity and confidence.” —The Antigonish Review

“As strange and wonderful as the characters in these pages are, they are grounded in real emotion and experience, longing and loneliness.” —Open Book

“Paige Cooper’s stories screw down into the earth, holding fire in their gaps. Her characters turn zero sum games into bloodsport. Zolitude will not leave you alone.” —Sasha Frere-Jones

Zolitude is the literary equivalent of a non-stop action film. These stories are tough and visceral and fraught. Cooper’s characters – sometimes reckless, sometimes tender, always fierce – are breathtakingly fresh and wonderfully complicated. When you finish this book – about how the world marks us and how we mark ourselves – the word ‘culpability’ will have new meanings. These are worlds that are keenly observed and then forged into the kind of wild and uncompromising stories the times demand.” —Aislinn Hunter, author of Stay and The World Before Us 

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