Bad Handwriting

$15.95

by Sara Mesa

July 12, 2022
stories | pb | 208 pgs.
5.5" x 8.5"
978-1-948830-55-3

From the author of the highly acclaimed Four by Four and Among the Hedges comes a collection of unsettling, captivating stories.

The eleven stories in this collection approach themes of childhood and adolescence, guilt and redemption, power and freedom. There are children who resist authority and experience the process of growing up with shock, and loneliness; alienated young girls whose rebellion lies under the surface—subterranean, furious and impotent; people who are tormented—or not—by regret and doubt, addicted to feelings of culpability; men who take advantage of women and adults who exercise power over children with a disturbing degree of control; kids abandoned by their parents; the suicide of the elderly and the young; lives that hide crimes—both real and imagined. Eschewing cosmopolitanism in favor of the micro-world of her characters, Mesa depicts a reality that is messy and disturbing, on even the smallest scale of an individual life, a single family.

Translated from the Spanish by Katie Whittemore

 

About the Author:

Sara Mesa is the author of eight works of fiction, including Scar (winner of the Ojo Critico Prize), Four by Four (a finalist for the Herralde Prize), An Invisible Fire (winner of the Premio Málaga de Novela), and Cara de Pan (forthcoming from Open Letter). Her works have been translated into more than ten different languages, and has been widely praised for her concise, sharp writing style.

About the Translator:

Katie Whittemore is graduate of the University of NH (BA), Cambridge University (M.Phil), and Middlebury College (MA), and was a 2018 Bread Loaf Translators Conference participant. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Two LinesThe Arkansas InternationalThe Common OnlineGulf Coast Magazine OnlineThe Los Angeles ReviewThe Brooklyn Rail, and InTranslation. Current projects include novels by Spanish authors Sara Mesa, Javier Serena, Aliocha Coll, Aroa Moreno Durán, Nuria Labari, Katixa Agirre, and Juan Gómez Bárcena.

Praise for Sara Mesa:

“With short, propulsive chapters, Sara Mesa creates an unforgettable gothic landscape, centered on the mysterious and menacing Wybrany College, that twists in ways that unsettle and thrill. In Four by Four, Mesa’s sentences are clear as glass, but when you look through you will be terrified by what you see.”—Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel 

“The atmospheric unraveling of the mystery will keep you turning the page; the ending will leave you stunned—Mesa’s Four by Four is a tautly written literary thriller that juxtaposes the innocence of children with the fetish of control; a social parable that warns against the silence of oppression and isolation through its disquieting, sparse prose.”—Kelsey Westenberg, Seminary Co-op

“Very few authors evoke a visceral reaction with prose in the way that Sara Mesa does. A master of tension building, Mesa constructs lurid phantasmagoric worlds that are equal parts mysterious and unnerving. Four by Four sounds an alarm on the dangers of power, privilege, and the self-delusions told in order to hide complicity. A work of high gothic art, Four by Four solidifies Mesa as one of the strongest female voices in contemporary Spanish literature.”—Cristina Rodriguez, Deep Vellum Books

“Stylistically, Four by Four’s narrative structure is both dazzling and dizzying, as its perfect pacing only enhances the metastasizing dread and dis-ease. . . . Mesa exposes the thin veneer of venerability to be hiding something menacing and unforgivable—and Four by Four lays it bare for all the world to see.”—Jeremy Garber, Powell’s Books

Sara Mesa. Don’t forget that name. The finalist for the 30th Premio Herralde de Novela. Read it. Share it. Talk about it. Open the book and begin. You won’t be able to put it down.—Uxue, Un libro al día

Sara Mesa has brought a new narrative voice to the scene that is in a position to bear important fruit for the genre of the Spanish novel in the twenty-first century. Already in Four by Four an author has been discovered with the capacity for artistic integration of different stylistic registers within the same novel and with a real talent for representing reality. Four by Four is an account of the sinister relationships of power corrupted by fear and latent violence that feed this social parable of Kafkian roots.—Ángel Basanta, El Mundo

What can I say about a story in which everything works? . . . A new author that will surprise us further in future.—Sergio Sancor, Libros y literatura