“You do not achieve freedom by abridging people’s rights; you do not create joy by enforcing misery. The means do become the ends, because there is no end. There are just ongoing moments.”
– Burning Girls and Other Stories
A collection of stories heavy with Jewish folklore, feminism, and anti-capitalism. I have been looking forward to reading this since it was first announced, and it was even better than I could have hoped.
Some of the stars for me: “Among the Thorns”, a Jewish girl seeks revenge for the heartless killing of her father; “Phosphorus”, a haunting tale involving the London matchgirls’ strike of 1888; “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga”, exactly what the title infers; and the pièce de résistance “Burning Girls”, a Jewish girl tries to protect her family from both human and supernatural evil.
A few of the stories were a bit too abstract and/or overly whimsical for my taste (“Alice: A Fantasia”, “Lost in the Supermarket”, “Swimming”), but these were few and far between. They weren’t necessarily bad, just not something I enjoy. Maybe I just didn’t “get” them. If you find yourself in the same boat, I encourage you not to put the book down; just skip to the next story.
This is bound to be one of the best short story collections of 2021, and I highly recommend it. I look forward to reading more of Schanoes in the future.
Thank you to Tordotcom and NetGalley for providing me with an advance review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Burning Girls and Other Stories will be published on March 2nd, 2021.