In this collection of short stories from the winner of Sweden's August Prize, Lina Wolff wrenches unpredictability from the suffocations of day-to-day life, and strips her characters down to their strangest and most unstable selves. Many People Die Like You presents the uneasy spectacle of people in solitude, and probes the choices we make when we believe no one is watching ... or when we no longer care.
Encompassing kinky murder, cruel neglect, misery porn, human sacrifice, and miracles, the stories in Lina Wolff’s Many People Die Like You investigate the bondage of identity, the rage of tangled relationships, and the uncompromising cloisters of community ... Wolff explores voyeurism, surveillance, and compliance, how needs and desires entwine beneath powerful gazes, how characters’ sufferings beckon, repel, or even demand complicity. Whether one breaks faith, commits adultery, or saves a soul, the human heart is insatiable, and society cares little for love ... Wolff’s beguiling, often hilarious, nightmares blend ambition, abuse, and giddy uncertainty into quicksilver quagmires of the quirky and quotidian that encompass seven literal deaths ... A proper theater of cruelty, weirdness, taboos, manipulation, and malice ... Many People Die Like You sounds a declaration and a challenge, the title coiling, uncoiling … many people you like die … you die like many people … many people like you die … Wolff’s fictive, raffish finesse, extruded through Saskia Vogel’s ace translation, creates an urge to revisit these haunted pages, to see the ball of serpentine stories shed their skins and reveal brighter colors, heightened sensations of surveillance and venomous complicity, and the puckish enjoyment of human entanglement.
What we do when nobody’s watching and the things that go unsaid in the minds of men and women — these are the obsessions pulsing through Many People Die Like You, a newly translated collection of witty, acerbic short stories by Swedish writer Lina Wolff ... Wolff’s clever and sardonic stories — in a slick translation by Saskia Vogel — expose our cruelest thought processes, exploring the often savage consequences for both men and women of life under the patriarchy ... The stories are brilliantly unsettling, always building towards a melodramatic climax — a rhythm that recalls the stories of Miranda July and Samanta Schweblin.
Wolff’s stories are more than quirky lessons in how to turn your life around offering a simple recipe for fighting existential dread: Be outrageous! Instead, Wolff shows us that while conventionality is, indeed, death, the opposite isn’t true: unconventionality isn’t life, and it won’t automatically make you happy—however much Wolff’s characters believe it will ... In a collection where emotion is often refracted through the lens of irony and humor, the ending song in 'Nuestra Señora de la Asunción' and the tragedy of 'Year of the Pig' are rare instances of a more earnest signal of how Wolff’s characters could navigate a world in which many people are experiencing a kind of living death. It’s not necessarily a concrete lesson or a bit of parting advice, but simply another way to respond to the ubiquitous melancholy hanging over their lives, our lives. We’ve addressed death with morbid humor and oddity—flings, murders, and a DIY porn channel—and now we stave off death with morbid hopefulness, just another way Wolff gives us to respond to the inevitable.