The Unfinished World: And Other Stories (Paperback)
February 2016 Indie Next List
“The beautiful stories in Sparks' debut collection have an ephemeral quality that is difficult to categorize. Comparisons can be made to Haruki Murakami or George Saunders, but the writing is honestly unlike anything I have ever read. The otherworldliness of these stories will transport you beyond the minutiae of your everyday life and alter the way you look at the world.”
— Shawn Donley (E), Powell's Books, Inc, Portland, OR
A Washington Post Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Selection
One of Electric Literature’s Best Short Story Collections of the Year
A highly anticipated collection of wildly imaginative short stories from “one of contemporary fiction’s true mad scientists” (Necessary Fiction).
In the weird and wonderful tradition of Kelly Link and Karen Russell, Amber Sparks’s dazzling new collection bursts forth with stories that render the apocalyptic and otherworldly hauntingly familiar. In “The Cemetery for Lost Faces,” two orphans translate their grief into taxidermy, artfully arresting the passage of time. The anchoring novella, “The Unfinished World,” unfurls a surprising love story between a free and adventurous young woman and a dashing filmmaker burdened by a mysterious family. Sparks’s stories—populated with sculptors, librarians, astronauts, and warriors—form a veritable cabinet of curiosities. Mythical, bizarre, and deeply moving, The Unfinished World and Other Stories heralds the arrival of a major writer and illuminates the search for a brief encounter with the extraordinary.
About the Author
Amber Sparks is the author of The Unfinished World, and her fiction and essays have appeared in American Short Fiction, Paris Review, Tin House, Granta, and elsewhere. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, daughter, and two cats.
Sparks's stylish second collection is the work of a young writer whose voice feels far wiser than her years…[S]he plays with both fantasy and form. No one story sounds like another, yet her singular voice floats through the collection, tying it together with opulent prose that draws heavily on history and the macabre.
— Rachel Syme
Amber Sparks uses the surreal and fantastic in stunning, surprising ways. Like Carola Dibbell's The Only Ones and Emily Mandel's Station Eleven, the book is a masterful work of speculative fiction.
— Nancy Hightower
Amber Sparks's The Unfinished World and Other Stories has all the furnishings of a twenty-first century homage to the carnally macabre Angela Carter. The collection captures an off-kilter universe of almost-fairy tales with equal parts beauty and melancholy.
— Keziah Weir
Fabulist authors such as Lauren Groff, Kelly Link, Karen Russell and Margaret Atwood examine monumental family sagas and twisted love affairs through [mythology and fairy tales] because these universal stories demand the profound gravity that emerges only from a distorted sense of reality. Amber Sparks' crackling, dark clutch of sharply focused short stories falls into this canon. . . . Forged in an evocative and sensual fire, these tales transcend tradition to shine new light onto timeless complications.
— Lauren LeBlanc
Fascinating in its serendipity, yet alert to pangs of the ordinary, The Unfinished World…[is] lovely, brave.
— John Domini
The images tumbling from Sparks’s mind in her extraordinary second story collection (following May We Shed These Human Bodies) are fantastical and sublime…. In present-day, historical, and fantasy settings, the author is assured; her spare but colorful prose takes the reader on journeys of longing and mystery, often into uncharted territory, all the while capturing setting and character in a few words…. [T]he breadth of her imagination never ceases to amaze.
In The Unfinished World and Other Stories, Amber Sparks is a master of the fantastic. Here are stories about fever librarians and brothers who are swans, time travelers and space janitors. With each story, Sparks defies the known world in absolutely thrilling ways.
— Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist
Amber Sparks is one of my favorite writers working today. Her stories are brutal beauties, guaranteed to explode your brain and steal your heart, and The Unfinished World and Other Stories is vintage Sparks: endlessly inventive, thrillingly imaginative, utterly assured. I loved this wild miracle of a collection.
— Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me