In this brilliant collection of short fiction, Erskine uncovers the stories that take place behind closed doors and closed faces, and in the process asks how well we can ever know or connect to each other ... their subjects and characters feel both universal and specific ... Erskine’s characters and their worlds are acutely, brilliantly observed ... Erskine writes about her characters without sentiment but with compassion and, perhaps most importantly, with a sense of the absurd that finds humour in the darkest of places ... The stories in Sweet Home are often very funny, even when they unsettle ... All these people have imagined ideal relationships that can never really exist, created worlds that no one outside themselves can ever know or understand. In Wendy Erskine’s world, these sweet homes contain multitudes.
They hook you in hard, the people whose lives fill Wendy Erskine’s debut collection, but you wouldn’t want to trade places with any of them ... each of these acutely observed portraits 'penetrates to the heart of what it means to be lonely, or in love or to feel a failure'. An exceptional ear for dialogue, an impeccable semantic rhythm and an uncanny ability to tease laughter out of the darkest moments mean Erskine is perfectly poised to stare, unflinching, into our neoliberal abyss. The result is a gripping, wonderfully understated book that oozes humanity, emotion and humour.
... immensely readable and immediate. Erskine’s voice is as specific and local as James Kelman’s and her tales are as memorably engaging as those of William Trevor or Muriel Spark ... Imaginative, poignant and compassionate. Highly recommended.