First Fiction Friday: Nosy White Woman

August 23, 2019

End your week worry-free with Martha Wilson's Nosy White Womana collection of short stories that takes a compassionate and witty look at ordinary life that will assure you: whatever your woe, you're not alone.  

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What: Nosy White Woman (Biblioasis)

Who: Martha Wilson’s fiction has appeared in Best Canadian Stories 2017 and in the New Quarterly. She was runner-up for the 2017 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Prize and a finalist for the New South 2018 fiction prize. Her writing has also been in Real Simple, New York Times, Japan Times, Kansai Time Out, and International Herald-Tribune. She is American but for more than twenty years has made her home in Canada, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.


Why you need to read this now:

Nosy White Woman is a collection of stories that assures you that you aren’t alone in the world. When I asked the author, Martha Wilson, what she’d like her readers to take away from this book, she said, “We all think, want, plan so many of the same crazy things. Reading is so private and internal and kind of unsharable; but it’s also being inside another person’s head. It’s pretty intimate! And I’m always fascinated when it turns out that some weird notion I’m afraid I made up is, in fact, evidently quite common. It happens all the time. We’re not alone! You’re not alone! Whatever peculiar idea you’re fretting over, millions of other people are wondering exactly the same thing. I find great comfort in that.”

And the thoughts of her characters are relatable. These stories examine ordinary people in ordinary situations in a profound light. They are easy to digest. Martha doesn’t make her reader work for clarity or to discover, but rather her characters’ reflections and thoughts are told plainly.

At their core, these stories are very personal and relational, but they also engage with larger topics. They are about people dealing with friends and family, but they also engage with larger topics and political discussions in the context of family. How do you discuss ideas and political convictions with loved ones, especially when you disagree? How do you relate to people who have been afforded different luxuries and opportunities than you?

I like what K.D. Miller said: “Martha Wilson is one of those authors who gives the impression of knowing all our secrets and liking us anyway. She writes with wit and compassion about ordinary people dealing as well as they can with life’s immensities—halfway through this wonderful collection of stories, I knew I would recognize Martha Wilson’s voice whenever I encountered it. And I hope I will encounter it often.”


Other praise for Nosy White Woman:

"Intimate...Wilson presents a kaleidoscope of complicated women finding their way through parenthood, partnership, and career goals...Wilson has a deft hand for examining how the larger world infiltrates the everyday. Her characters are richly conceived...keenly observed, extremely human stories."—Booklist

“Resonates in that narrow space where everyday life drips with meaning and the quiet world around us breathes its secrets. Nosy White Woman both elevates the ordinary and strips back its facade to reveal the often uncomfortable truths it hides.”—Charlie Lovett, New York Times-bestselling author of The Bookman's Tale and The Lost Book of the Grail



X + Y 


Nosy White Woman is like Alice Munro’s focus on everyday life meeting the family relationships of Gilmore Girls.




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Thanks to Biblioasis and to Martha Wilson for sharing Nosy White Woman with us.

Find more First Fiction to fill your Fridays on the ALU blog >>


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