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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 08/2022
  • 979-8-02743-8
  • 182 pages
  • $12.95
william kauffman
Author
Unaka

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

compilation of short fiction
Reviews
This incisive collection from Kauffman centers on the author’s talent for capturing, in just a few lines, the sweep and grain of a life, with rare empathy. Kauffman’s perceptive acuity is clear from the opening pages, as the collection kicks off with a heartbreaker of a portrait of a Georgia widower picking at his guitar, reflecting on how he came to be here, wondering what life has left for him after 74 years. The answer resounds in the stories that follow: connections. “Friends did all they could within their limitations,” Kauffman writes, one of the many small yet resonant truths that stud the collection. Sammy, the widower, “had never been much for church going” but finds what he needs in visits from a literal Good Samaritan, a volunteer from a Christian ministry who checks in on him.

The other stories read like check ins as well, Chekhovian dispatches from the heart and mind of entirely believable people facing hardships, feeling towards a bit of grace. In the Great Depression, aged sisters Mary and Ruby, who have lived together and tended each other for decades, discuss Buddhism, the past, and a piercing question: “Are you happy?” The milieu couldn’t be further removed from “Jack,” a penetrating story that opens with a Chicago CEO briefing a board of directors on how profitable it will be to exploit Nigerian workers, but both stories turn on loneliness and people’s responsibility to each other when Sobia, a Pakistani national, discovers a secret.

The stories range widely—a doctor interested in a race horse; an audit at a local Red Cross office; the proudly divorced exterminator who eats at Hardees every morning and has drunken visions of an East Indian woman. What binds Unaka is Kauffman’s almost reportorial dedication to these people’s experiences and circumstances. He pins lives to the page in direct, unadorned prose.

Takeaway: Quiet, incisive slice-of-life stories of rare empathy and directness.

Great for fans of: Breece D'J Pancake, Ron Rash’s Burning Bright.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 08/2022
  • 979-8-02743-8
  • 182 pages
  • $12.95

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