The Doll's Alphabet


Product Details

$18.00  $16.74
Coffee House Press
Publish Date
5.2 X 0.6 X 8.2 inches | 0.45 pounds
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About the Author

Camilla Grudova: Camilla Grudova lives in Toronto. She holds a degree in Art History and German from McGill University, Montreal. Her fiction has appeared in The White Review and Granta.


"A canny collage artist with an eye for the comically macabre, Grudova scavenges her images from Victorian and Edwardian aesthetics. Against this background, her ironies and insights about the inequalities in relationships between men and women feel startlingly current." --Publishers Weekly

"The comic grotesqueries that emerge from this collection owe a bit to Dickens, Kafka and Heinrich Hoffmann's 'Der Struwwelpeter, ' but their total effect is delightfully unclassifiable . . . .The world [The Doll's Alphabet] inhabits--droll, inexplicable and even beautiful in its slovenly fashion--is unlike any other I've encountered." --The Wall Street Journal

"That I cannot say what all these stories are about is a testament to their worth. They have been haunting me for days now. They have their own, highly distinct flavour, and the inevitability of uncomfortable dreams." --The Guardian

"Grudova's method of storytelling is highly imaginative and incredibly ambitious." --Chicago Review of Books

"The effect of the absurd, unnatural, cruel, and unfair social rules in these stories is to cast light on how absurd, unnatural, cruel, and unfair the rules of contemporary society can be." --Kirkus

"A remarkable collection akin to a cabinet of infinite curiosities or a hall of mirrors, The Doll's Alphabet disgusts and delights in equal measure." --Chicago Review of Books

"Grudova's style is an exotic cocktail: three parts magic realism, two parts dystopian, and a splash of extreme feminism. However, there is a playful intelligence driving these weird stories and a real talent that can't be dismissed--even when she seems most eccentric." --Daily Mail

"[Grudova's] stories not only absorb the most fantastic of elements but normalize them, often to deeply troubling effect." --National Post

"Grudova does mermaids and magic, but she also does moldy, dingy, scratch-and-sniff interiors that reek of cabbage and old shoes... Grudova's descriptions are crooked and revelatory." --Harper's Magazine

"[The Doll's Alphabet] is a meticulously crafted modern gothic, thoughtful in its explorations of femininity and what can survive in darkness." --The Riveter

"The literary love child of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya and Margaret Atwood, Grudova alternates between stories of the supernatural and stories of humanity; it's difficult to say which is more unnerving." --Literary Hub

"Fans of authors Alexandra Kleeman and Ameila Gray or the films of David Lynch and David Cronenberg will be delighted. Grudova is undeniably talented and someone to watch." --Library Journal

"If fairytales could dream, this nightmarish collection is what you might end up with. . . . Grudova very efficiently spins us into her weird web." --Times Literary Supplement

"The world building is intricate and beautiful, and it's an amazing portrait of the uncanny." --Literary Hub

"The stories included in [Grudova's] debut collection [The Doll's Alphabet are at once macabre and wondrous. . . . Grudova's imagination is among the most potent to emerge in literature in recent memory." --Entropy

"Whether she's describing a set of earthly possessions sealed up in cans or a sentient spider's fussy manicure, Grudova aims her fictional sword straight at the solar plexus of capitalist plenty in the face of the end times we all fear. Her book will, dare I say it, unspool your expectations about who tells stories, and how." --Literary Hub

"Beginning with a tale of 'unstitching, ' the ambitious short stories in The Doll's Alphabet play out like dreams in which recurring obsessions stitch themselves into the narrative at a bizarre and unsettling cost. . . . Just when we feel we have escaped the familiar for the fantastical, an event or a detail pulls us back. The resulting picture is one of a society determined by structures as opaque and incredulous as our own." --TANK

"Camilla Grudova's collection will appeal to anyone who loves weirdness with a message." --Bustle

"[Grudova's] writing is haunting and humorous, and the attention to gender dynamics adds a layer of truth to these dark tales." --NewPages

"Grudova's prose is both elegant and nonchalant, offering horrific imagery as if nothing were untoward, and a feminist subtext colours almost every story." --Buzz Mag

"These stories draw on images and myths you know -- mermaids, werewolves, children's dolls -- but they've been reinvented with darker, dreamier twists." --MPRNews

"The Doll's Alphabet, Camilla Grudova's debut short story collection, splits open a dollhouse of domestic life and allows us to examine the magical dystopian interior... Grudova's images also offer strange glimpses into human interiority, giving shape to unknown emotions." --Arkansas International "Grudova is a master of world-building with an incredible command of language." --The Herald

"Grudova's beguiling collection of short stories - filled with mermaids and werewolves - announces the arrival of a major new voice in Canadian fiction." --The Globe and Mail

"At its core, this is a book about the danger and existential panic contained within women's bodies. It's a vivid externalization of female pain and anger." --The Michigan Daily

"The Doll's Alphabet is a dark, yet naive, body of work dripping with eccentricity and weirdness." --CBC

"Grudova's continued inventive reworking of a few key symbols--canned food, dolls, and mirrors also among them--is one of the book's most intriguing qualities. . . . An interest in the (often female) body and the ways it can be misused drives many of her stories, whether the protagonist is a mother who turns into a wolf every night or a refined gentleman with eight legs, giving the collection a pointed and somewhat political undertone." --The Last Magazine

"This collection of uncanny stories mixes the grotesque with the mundane to largely, extraordinary effect..."

"This collection, familiar and strange at once, swept me away with its spooky urban atmosphere and dedicated examination of gender politics. In these stories a surreal horror has taken root in some unspecified time and place that could possibly be our future under patriarchal capitalism." --Paper Darts

"At once illuminating and completely unsettling, The Doll's Alphabet is an incredible collection featuring stories that almost feel as if they exist in a shared world in the not-too-distant future. These are stories about obsessions and perceptions, imbalances of privilege, the absorbing and painful nature of motherhood, and spooky mundanities like tinned meats, costumes, and sewing machines. Full of memorable moments; fascinating, vivid details; and grotesque facts of the body, The Doll's Alphabet is an intelligent exploration of identity, femininity, and attraction." --Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books

"The Doll's Alphabet is a haunting short story collection that is impossible to put down or forget. I read it all in one day because I was just so transfixed and couldn't begin to imagine where the stories were going. Grudova writes wonderfully strange stories that have a semblance of normal domesticity until something surreal, and sometimes grotesque, happens. With themes of sewing, stitching, transformation, and womanhood and reminders of the work of Atwood or Kafka, this is a timely collection for those brave enough to try it." --Katrina Bright, Books & Company "Beautifully embroidered with exquisite and vulgar details, this collection reminded me of nothing more than traveling through a Hannah Hoch photomontage." --Unabridged Bookstore Newsletter, Staff Picks "I adored this grotesque jewel box of a book! Most of these menacing stories take place in a dystopian world similar enough to our own to leave you disquieted. Grudova weaves recurring motifs (among them, sewing machines, golden syrup, doll parts, vermin, and things packed in tin) and themes (principally the systematic subjugation of women and the desire to mechanize portions of one's body) throughout these stories, constructing a universe that appears to be the result of commonplace assumptions taken to their furthest logical conclusions. Beautifully embroidered with exquisite and vulgar details, this collection reminded me of nothing less than traveling through a Hannah Höch photomontage." -Katharine Solheim, Unabridged Bookstore

"If your aesthetic includes dusty shops, wandering mermaids, sewing machines, stark living conditions with food in tins, and feminism, The Doll's Alphabet is the book for you. It deserves to be on the shelf next to your beloved copies of Angela Carter and Shirley Jackson." --Anton Bogomazov, Politics and Prose

"This doll's eye view is a total delight and surveys a world awash with shadowy wit and exquisite collisions of beauty and the grotesque." --Helen Oyeyemi, author of Boy, Snow, Bird

"Down to its most particular details, The Doll's Alphabet creates an individual world--a landscape I have never encountered before, which now feels like it was waiting to be captured, and waiting to captivate, all along." --Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?

"Marvellous. Grudova understands that the best writing has to pull off the hardest aesthetic trick--it has to be both memorable and fleeting." --Deborah Levy, author of Hot Milk

"Imagine a long-suffering, unnamed wife of a mid-century academic who transcribes his research on a chitinous black typewriter. If that typewriter could dream, these stories are the deadpan nightmares it would dream." --Rachel Schneck, Harvard Book Store

"If dystopian lit infused with ideas of gender dynamics feeds your imagination, then this is for you." --American Microreviews