Sleeping Alone asks one of the fundamental questions of our times: What is the toll of feeling foreign in one's land, to others, or even to oneself? A cast of misfits, young and old, single and coupled, even entire family units, confront startling changes wrought by difficult circumstances or harrowing choices. These stories span the world, moving from Maine to Sri Lanka, from Dublin to Philadelphia, paying exquisite attention to the dance between the intimate details of our lives and our public selves.
One or two stories peter out without having amounted to much. The rest of them are deftly constructed and vividly realized. The eponymous tale about a Middle Eastern immigrant intent on wreaking havoc...shows that Freeman is capable of producing darker hues, and of disturbing and delighting in equal measure.
Freeman...expertly depicts the dance between who we appear to be and what’s below the surface in her new story collection, Sleeping Alone ... While the stories do wrestle with issues of privilege and class, that’s not their focus. Rather, the underlying current binding these stories together is the way they highlight the emotional price we pay when there is a disconnect between our public and private selves. It’s not a comfortable read, but it is a searing one. While Freeman’s prose has many virtues—she’s masterful on a line level and utilizes effective narrative techniques in each story—it’s her ability to highlight how lonely it is to not truly be seen that makes Sleeping Alone so remarkable.
For all Sameera’s disdain for these white men’s inauthenticity and appropriation, in other stories Freeman is guilty of her own authorial overreach. Far-flung settings and superficially drawn narrators read more as caricatures than whole characters ... In a broad treatment of identity politics, these particular stories suffer from a lack of imaginative license compared with others in the collection that sing with specificity.