Ten sharply observed, funny, and wise new stories from the best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars: stunning explorations of the mysteries of love and our complex desire for connection.
Ranging from youth to old age, the voices that inhabit Problems with People offer tender, unexpected, and always tightly focused accounts of our quest to understand each other, individually, and as part of a political and historical moment. These stories are shot through with tragedy—the long-ago loss of a young boyfriend, a son’s death at sea; poignant reflections upon cultural and personal circumstances—whether it is being Jewish, overweight and single, or a tourist in a history-haunted land; and paradigmatic questions about our sense of reality and belonging. Spanning diverse geographies—all across America, and in countries as distant as Nepal and South Africa—these stories showcase David Guterson’s signature gifts for characterization, psychological nuance, emotional and moral suspense, and evocations of small-town life and the natural world. They celebrate the ordinary yet brightening surprises that lurk within the dramas of our daily lives, as well as the return of a contemporary American master to the form that launched his astonishing literary career.
About the Author
David Guterson is the author of five novels: Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the PEN/Faulkner and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award; East of the Mountains; Our Lady of the Forest, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times and Seattle Post- Intelligencer Best Book of the Year; The Other; and Ed King. He is also the author of a previous story collection, The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind; a poetry collection, Songs for a Summons; and two works of nonfiction, Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense and Descent: A Memoir of Madness. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lives in Washington State.
David Guterson’s The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind; East of the Mountains; Ed King; The Other; Our Lady of the Forest; and Snow Falling on Cedars are available in Vintage paperback.
Praise for Problems with People…
“Excellent . . . What’s striking about Guterson’s new collection is the consistent brilliance of the set-ups. Each of the ten stories fascinates in a different way, and the main problem is trying to resist devouring these crisply written morsels in one delirious binge.” —John Harding, Daily Mail (UK)
“Guterson’s second story collection displays simplicity even in its titles. Set mostly in the Pacific Northwest but also touching down in South Africa, Germany and Nepal, these 10 spare stories feature characters, mostly nameless and in midlife, trying to connect with family members, lovers and strangers . . . Throughout, intimacy is problematic: elusive, startling and awkward. More often than not, the author’s impulse toward the austere—both thematically and stylistically—proves effective.” —Carmela Ciuraru, The New York Times
“First-rate . . . The stories in Guterson’s second collection portray men and women who experience some sort of people problem. Whether it’s loneliness, anxiety, or depression, they suffer a paradoxical fear of and desire for human contact and intimacy . . . Some of the tales involve burdensome family members; others a new lover or the possibility of one; one has a racial theme. Painfully humorous, ironic, and satiric, each story is realistic, bordering on surrealistic; they’re well-written and well crafted . . . A collection worth reading for its portraits of and insights into personhood and its problems.” —Joseph Peschel, The Boston Globe
“Succinct, ambitious . . . People struggle to connect with each other in these 10 stories from the author of Snow Falling on Cedars. Some return to Guterson’s customary Pacific Northwest, but elsewhere he ranges abroad, with settings including Kathmandu, Berlin and South Africa. Though Guterson’s characters differ in their ages, locations, and worries, all of their stories turn on the thin lines that separate friendship from acquaintance, and the strange from the familiar . . . Guterson reminds us of the boundless potential of everyday encounters.” —Publishers Weekly
“Deeply affecting . . . A strong sense of anonymity and isolation connects the characters in this collection . . . Missed signals, isolation, distancing oneself from social contact—all describe the emotional core of Guterson’s narratives. A haunting collection from a thoughtful storyteller.” —Donna Bettencourt, Library Journal (starred review)