I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories (Hardcover)

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"As enchanting as fairy tales, as mysterious as dreams, these exquisitely composed fictions are as urgent and original as any being written today.” —Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend, winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction

One of Entertainment Weekly's 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 and 30 Hottest Summer Reads, one of O, the Oprah Magazine's 30 Most Anticipated Books of 2020, one of BuzzFeed's Most Anticipated Books of 2020, one of the BBC's Ten Books to Read in 2020, one of ELLE's 30 Most Anticipated New Books of Summer 2020, one of Thrillist's 21 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020, and
one of The Millions Most Anticipated Books of the First Half of 2020

An urgent and unsettling collection of women on the verge from Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, Laura van den Berg’s first story collection since her acclaimed and prizewinning Isle of Youth, draws readers into a world of wholly original, sideways ghost stories that linger in the mouth and mind like rotten, fragrant fruit. Both timeless and urgent, these eleven stories confront misogyny, violence, and the impossible economics of America with van den Berg’s trademark spiky humor and surreal eye. Moving from the peculiarities of Florida to liminal spaces of travel in Mexico City, Sicily, and Iceland, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears is uncannily attuned to our current moment, and to the thoughts we reveal to no one but ourselves.

In “Lizards,” a man mutes his wife's anxieties by giving her a La Croix–like seltzer laced with sedatives. In the title story, a woman poses as her more successful sister during a botched Italian holiday, a choice that brings about strange and violent consequences, while in “Karolina,” a woman discovers her prickly ex-sister-in-law in the aftermath of an earthquake and is forced to face the truth about her violent brother.

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears presents a collection of women on the verge, trying to grasp what’s left of life: grieving, divorced, and hyperaware, searching, vulnerable, and unhinged, they exist in a world that deviates from our own only when you look too close. With remarkable control and transcendent talent, van den Berg dissolves, in the words of the narrator of “Slumberland," “that border between magic and annihilation,” and further establishes herself as a defining fiction writer of our time.

About the Author


Laura van den Berg is the author of the story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, and the novels Find Me and The Third Hotel, which was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indie Next pick, and was named a best book of 2018 by more than a dozen publications. She is the recipient of a Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bard Fiction Prize, a PEN/O. Henry Award, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and is a two-time finalist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Born and raised in Florida, Laura splits her time between the Boston area and Central Florida, with her husband and dog.

Praise For…


"A collection of dreamlike tales of womanhood that speak, however strangely, to the dark realities of modern life." --Entertainment Weekly

"Laura Van Den Berg has the uncanny ability to see what the rest of us cannot, and her newest story collection, the hauntingly titled I Hold A Wolf By The Ears, is a seductive, eerie plunge that subverts the mundane . . . As ever, Van Den Berg is unafraid of the fearsome, and she forces her readers to always look a little closer at the monsters within." --ELLE

"Startling, precise . . . Van den Berg maintains an unsettling tone throughout these darkly imagined tales. This collection shows the author at her best." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"All 11 stories here are sharp as they are haunting; in this world—maybe like the real one—nothing is exactly what it seems. . .The stories here, vibrating with loss, but wickedly funny, are a distinctly van den Berg-ian hybrid, as biting as they are dreamy. Witty, painful, and thoroughly unsettling." --Kirkus (starred review)

"Laura van den Berg leads her characters into bizarre and life-changing situations--all the more powerful for their underlying emotional resonance--in her thrilling and uncanny collection of stories . . . I Hold a Wolf by the Ears is not only a testament to the power of the short story, but to how, cumulatively, a collection can sustain an entire ethos and atmosphere. Van den Berg is a maestro of the form, and these stories shouldn't be missed." --Shelf Awareness

"van den Berg serves up an assortment of complex and satisfying not–quite–ghost stories. . .These well-crafted and intelligent stories about the many ways a life can be haunted will gratify readers who enjoy perceptive, slightly gothic tales." --Library Journal

“Another bravura display from one of our most imaginative storytellers. Each enthralling new plot seeks to uncover the essence of human experience by way of the uncanny. As enchanting as fairy tales, as mysterious as dreams, these exquisitely composed fictions are as urgent and original as any being written today.” —Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend, winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction

“Unflinching, chilling and electric, with flashes of sly wit, these stories and the women who complicate them blaze a new literary trail, guided by the author’s skilled hand. What Laura van den Berg has done with this collection is extraordinary.” —Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky

"Laura van den Berg has this uncanny ability to strip away the window dressing that her characters, like us all, attempt to hide behind. Fears, anxieties, nightmares all rise to the surface. So tempting to make comparisons, throw around names like Jackson, O'Connor, even Renata Adler who makes a tiny cameo. No need: van den Berg is van den Berg and I was as stunned by the stories in I Hold a Wolf by the Ears as I was beautifully unsettled by them." —Peter Orner, author of Maggie Brown & Others

"These are stories about wandering and being invisible, about stepping in a cold shadow. Laura van den Berg puts into words how scary it is when you feel you’re disappearing, when a disaster, personal or historical, makes ghosts of us, forever trapped in the trauma. They are also very beautiful, sometimes surreal and even funny stories, about loss and grief and sadness and the lives we try to leave behind. I think this collection will haunt me for a long time." —Mariana Enriquez, author of Things We Lost in the Fire

"You might be tempted to race through all 11 stories in Van Den Berg’s new collection, her first since Isle of Youth in 2013. This would be unwise, because haste and haunting are incompatible, and you really need to live with these ghosts, to slow your eyes over their uncanny weirdness until you’re both unsettled and seen—the hallmark quality of van den Berg’s writing." --The Millions



Product Details
ISBN: 9780374102098
ISBN-10: 0374102090
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: July 28th, 2020
Pages: 224