Mothers & Other Monsters

Nancy Pearl selected Mothers & Other Monsters as a “Books for a Rainy Day” on Morning Edition on NPR.

Maureen F. McHugh is the author of four acclaimed novels. Her genre-expanding short fiction has won the Hugo and Locus Awards and has frequently been included in Best of the Year anthologies. Since 1988 she has attracted a broad readership in publications such as Asimov’s, Scifiction, Starlight, The Year’s Best Science Fiction, and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.

Now, in her luminous, long-awaited debut collection, award-winning novelist Maureen F. McHugh wryly and delicately examines the impacts of social and technological shifts on families. Using beautiful, deceptively simple prose, she illuminates the relationship between parents and children and the expected and unexpected chasms that open between generations.

– A woman introduces her new lover to her late brother.

– A teenager is interviewed about her peer group’s attitudes toward sex and baby boomers.

– A missing stepson sets a marriage on edge.
– Anthropologists visiting an isolated outpost mission are threatened by nomadic raiders.

McHugh’s characters — her Alzheimers-afflicted parents or her smart and rebellious teenagers — are always recognizable: stubborn, human, and heartbreakingly real.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide (Download as PDF):


“Gorgeously crafted stories.”
— Nancy Pearl (Book Lust) on Morning Edition, “Books for a Rainy Day

“Unpredictable and poetic work.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer (Recommended Summer Reading)

“[McHugh] cherry-picks subtle magical or futuristic elements from the expansive genre library.”

“McHugh’s prose style is unique.”
LEO (Louisville Eccentric Observer)

“McHugh’s stories are hauntingly beautiful.”

“The 13 stories in McHugh’s debut collection offer poignant and sometimes heartwrenching explorations of personal relationships and their transformative power…. McHugh (Nekropolis) relates her stories as slices of ordinary life whose simplicity masks an emotional intensity more often found in poetry. The universality of these tales should break them out to the wider audience they deserve.”
Publishers Weekly

“Passion and precision.”

“McHugh is enormously talented…. [She] has a light touch, a gentle sense of a humor, and a keen wit.
Strange Horizons

“There’s not a single story that isn’t strong, and most are brilliant.”

The Story PrizeStory Prize finalist.
Pictures from the event: Maureen, Maureen & Larry Dark, Maureen, fellow finalist Jim Harrison, and winner Patrick O’Keefe

A Book Sense Notable Book. Interview.
Maureen McHugh & Sarah Willis in conversation: parts 1, 2 & 3.

Also available as a beautiful limited edition.

Advance Praise

“My favorite thing about her is the wry, uncanny tenderness of her stories. She has the astonishing ability to put her finger on the sweet spot right between comedy and tragedy, that pinpoint that makes you catch your breath. You’re not sure whether to laugh out loud or cry, and you end up doing both at once.”
— Dan Chaon, Among the Missing

When I first read China Mountain Zhang many years ago, Maureen McHugh instantly became, as she has remained, one of my favorite writers. This collection is a welcome reminder of her power — they are resonant, wise, generous, sharp, transporting, and deeply, deeply moving. McHugh is enormously gifted; each of these stories is a gift.”
— Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club

“Wonderfully unpredictable stories, from the very funny to the very grim, by one of our best and bravest imaginative writers.”
–Ursula K. Le Guin, Changing Planes

“Enchanting, funny and fierce by turns — a wonderful collection!”
— Mary Doria Russell, A Thread of Grace

On the web:

Novel excerpts:


  • Cover image © Conde Nast Archive/Corbis. Photographer: Erwin Blumenfeld.
    Download cover for print.

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