These stories are weird, clever, tragic, and immensely off-putting. I mean that as the highest compliment. I was unsettled in the best way while reading Kate Folk's collection, and found myself thinking about the (absolutely bizarre) plots long after I put this book down. I recommend starting with "Moist House" for maximum strange energy.
A thrilling new voice in fiction injects the absurd into the everyday to present a startling vision of modern life, “[as] if Kafka and Camus and Bradbury were penning episodes of Black Mirror” (Chang-Rae Lee, author of My Year Abroad). “Stories so sharp and ingenious you may cut yourself on them while reading.”—Kelly Link, author of Get In Trouble
FINALIST FOR THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Chicago Review of Books, Kirkus Reviews
With a focus on the weird and eerie forces that lurk beneath the surface of ordinary experience, Kate Folk’s debut collection is perfectly pitched to the madness of our current moment. A medical ward for a mysterious bone-melting disorder is the setting of a perilous love triangle. A curtain of void obliterates the globe at a steady pace, forcing Earth’s remaining inhabitants to decide with whom they want to spend eternity. A man fleeing personal scandal enters a codependent relationship with a house that requires a particularly demanding level of care. And in the title story, originally published in The New Yorker, a woman in San Francisco uses dating apps to find a partner despite the threat posed by “blots,” preternaturally handsome artificial men dispatched by Russian hackers to steal data. Meanwhile, in a poignant companion piece, a woman and a blot forge a genuine, albeit doomed, connection.
Prescient and wildly imaginative, Out There depicts an uncanny landscape that holds a mirror to our subconscious fears and desires. Each story beats with its own fierce heart, and together they herald an exciting new arrival in the tradition of speculative literary fiction.
About the Author
Kate Folk has written for publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Granta, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and Zyzzyva. She’s received support from the Headlands Center for the Arts, MacDowell, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Recently, she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford University. She lives in San Francisco. Out There is her first book.
“Out There is for readers who consider body horror to be a love language. True romantics will swoon either despite or because of the gore that accompanies these sharp, affable stories . . . Folk’s stories have been compared to Shirley Jackson’s, and this is most apparent in the way Folk balances her horror with humor.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[The short story] Out There originally ran in the New Yorker and was something of a viral sensation. Fans of the story won’t be disappointed by the collection, which also explores a gendered territory somewhere in the borderlands of magical realism, weird horror, sci-fi and literary fiction about jaded relationships.”—Los Angeles Times
“Folk’s ample imagination ably . . . offer[s] a perfect encapsulation of our modern madnesses, like an Alice’s looking glass for our social media–obsessed age.”—Chicago Review of Books
“[Folk] writes witty, cinematic fiction that merges familiar scenarios with uncanny menace [and] capably captures the lunacy of the moment we’re living through.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“There’s something of the comedy of manners to these stories, as well as others in the collection. But there’s also a bleaker undercurrent…. And Folk is more than willing to venture to the more unsettling corners that some of these stories’ premises take her…. Folk covers a lot of stylistic ground in this collection…. [an] immersive, chilling debut.”—Tor Online
“Kate Folk’s short stories are wonderfully weird; playfully pushing the possibilities of plotlines towards the uncanny, creepy and off-kilter, they have a seam of dark humor that illuminates the grotesquery with an unnerving beauty.”—The Daily Mail
“Out There . . . speaks to the current social media moment almost too well…. Folk often uses dread itself as her twist . . . never quite knowing when to expect the worst (or weirdest) the social technology of her near-future world has to offer.”—Paste
“[Folk] builds worlds that hover chillingly between ours and unfettered imagination. Her writing is uncanny and unsentimental and comic, a funhouse mirror showing us how strange we truly are.”—Electric Lit
“Kate Folk’s stories inhabit otherworldly realms where exquisite language and beguiling characters excavate the very nature of love and existence.”—Adam Johnson
“Wonderfully weird and weirdly wonderful, Kate Folk is a dazzling talent.”—Karen Joy Fowler
“Wry, riveting, and ambitious, Out There manages to be both brilliantly inventive and emotionally resonant.”—Kimberly King Parsons
“Kate Folk is a literary swordsmith of feline dexterity.”—Lisa Locascio
“The stories in this stunning debut are funny, fearless, and moving portraits of life shaped by the ever-widening shadow of technological progress.”—Isle McElroy