by Nicole Krauss
from the September 21, 2020 issue of The New Yorker

I‘m always happy to get something new from Nicole Krauss, and here we have a story about a thirteen-year-old girl American girl who goes to Switzerland to live in a boarding house (something Krauss did herself at that age). The narrator is looking back from her forties, and she begins the story by mentioning someone she first met in Switzerland:

It’s been thirty years since I saw Soraya. In that time I tried to find her only once. I think I was afraid of seeing her, afraid of trying to understand her now that I was older and maybe could, which I suppose is the same as saying that I was afraid of myself: of what I might discover beneath my understanding. The years passed and I thought of her less and less. I went to university, then graduate school, got married sooner than I’d imagined and had two daughters, only a year apart. If Soraya came to mind at all, flickering past in a mercurial chain of associations, she would recede again just as quickly.

“Switzerland” is the first story in Krauss’s forthcoming collection To Be a Man. This is her debut collection, following four novels. I have a copy of that so I plan on reviewing more the stories in it, but it should be noted that, besides “Switzerland,” we have looked at a few other stories in it because they have been published in The New Yorker over the years: “Zusya on the Roof” and “Seeing Ershadi.” If you got The New Republic in 2013 you may have read “I Am Asleep But My Heart Is Awake.”

I hope everyone is starting out what will be a great September week. Please let me know your thoughts on “Switzerland” and Krauss’s work in general below!

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