Tender: Stories

Divided into “Tender Bodies” and “Tender Landscapes,” these twenty stories travel from the commonplace to the edges of reality.

The first collection of short fiction from a rising star whose stories have been anthologized many times including in the first two volumes of the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy series and nominated for many awards. Some of Samatar’s weird and compassionate fabulations spring from her life and literary studies; some spring from the world, some from the void. Tender explores the fragility of bodies, emotions, and landscapes, in settings that range from medieval Egypt to colonial Kenya to the stars, and the voices of those who question: children, students, servants, researchers, writers.

Tender includes two new stories, “An Account of the Land of Witches” and an expansive novella, “Fallow.”

Advance Praise

Kirkus Reviews (starred review):
“These stories are windows into an impressively deep imagination guided by sensitivity, joyful intellect, and a graceful mastery of language.”

adrienne maree brown, co-editor of Octavia’s Brood:
“Sofia Samatar’s stories are just so good. Surprising. Suspenseful at an emotional level — I kept finding myself plummeted into an emotion face first, everything built up so steadily, with such subtle and meticulous storytelling. Samatar earns readers’ trust and uses it to take us into unexpected territory, to make us see ourselves in our power, in our messiness. Tender is the right word, so many of these stories touched into the place of gasping, or tears. Each story had me like, “Oh this is my favorite, I must mention this one.” But then I would read the next story which would be Another Whole Paradigm, similar only in that the writing was astonishing, each word so precise. This collection is an exquisite exploration of what otherness and belonging and place and language and love do to us all. It is visionary fiction. Please accept this as my enthusiastic recommendation to let this book have its way with you.”

Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls:
“Equal parts brutal and beautiful, flinty, and acrobatic, Samatar’s stories explore lesser known territories of the imagination. The results chime with all the strangeness of dream and the dark-hearted truth of fairytale. I loved it.”

Ben Loory, Tales of Flying and Falling
“If a library came alive, and spent ten thousand years walking up and down upon the earth, exploring and dreaming and falling in and out of love, it might write stories like these.”

David Connerley Nahm author of Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky:
The stories in Sofia Samatar’s Tender are perfect and profound works of art written with the impossible ease of someone who has unlimited access to the secret knowledge of the exact right order in which words are supposed to go. The stories ring in sympathy with the reader like the favorite stories of childhood or youth or old age: Familiar and strange in the same proportion. These stories give you several new lives to live and with each reading–because you will read all of them several times–you discover new tales and new possibilities hidden within and you are filled endlessly with the pure pleasure of great literature.”

Publishers Weekly:
“The first collection from one of fantasy’s rising stars, showcasing her rich, lyrical language and intricate storytelling in 20 short works.”

Table of Contents

Tender Bodies
Selkie Stories Are for Losers
Ogres of East Africa
Walkdog
The Tale of Mahliya and Mauhub and the White-Footed Gazelle
Olimpia’s Ghost
Honey Bear
How I Met the Ghoul
Those
A Girl Who Comes Out of a Chamber at Regular Intervals
How to Get Back to the Forest

Tender Landscapes
Tender
A Brief History of Nonduality Studies
Dawn and the Maiden
Cities of Emerald, Deserts of Gold
An Account of the Land of Witches
Request for an Extension on the Clarity
Meet Me in Iram
The Closest Thing to Animals
Fallow
The Red Thread

Praise for Sofia Samatar’s Books

“The excerpt from Sofia Samatar’s compelling novel A Stranger in Olondria should be enough to make you run out and buy the book. Just don’t overlook her short “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” the best story about loss and love and selkies I’ve read in years.” —K. Tempest Bradford, NPR

“An imaginative, poetic, and dark meditation on how history gets made.” —Hello Beautiful

“Pleasantly startling and unexpected. Her prose is by turns sharp and sumptuous, and always perfectly controlled. . . . There are strains here too of Jane Austen and something wilder.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Samatar’s use of poetic yet unpretentious language makes her one of the best writers of today.” —Romantic Times Book Reviews (4.5/5 stars, Top Pick)

“If you love stories but distrust them, if you love language and can also see how it is used as a tool or a weapon in the maintenance of status quo, then read The Winged Histories.
— Marion Deeds, Fantasy Literature

“Like an alchemist, Sofia Samatar spins golden landscapes and dazzling sentences.” —Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“Beauty, wonder, and a soaring paean to the power of story.”—Jason Heller, NPR

“Highly recommended.” —N. K. Jemisin, New York Times Book Review

Sofia Samatar is the author of the novels A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories. She has written for the Guardian, Strange Horizons, and Clarkesworld, among others, and has won the John W. Campbell Award, the Crawford Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award. She lives in Virginia.

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