by Joan Silber
from the September 12, 2022 issue of The New Yorker

Joan Silber is an author I have heard a lot about, but I have not read any of her work. Her debut novel, Household Words, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award back in 1981. Her 2017 novel, Improvement, won both the PEN/Faulkner and the NBCC Award. That year she also won the PEN/Malamud for excellence in the short story. I want to get to know her work! This is the second piece she’s published in The New Yorker, but it’s been a while. Her first was “Lake Natasink,” back in 1991.

Here is how “Evolution” starts:

I was ten when my mother had to take me to the emergency room. I’d sort of skidded on our fire escape while I was recklessly dancing around on it, showing off for the kid in the apartment across the way. I’d done a bump-de-bump, and I was singing “whoopty-whoopty” and starting a foxy little move while waving the ends of my bathrobe sash when I slipped on the rusted flooring that was splashed with snow, and collapsed on its see-through slats in an unnatural crumple. The back yard was three floors below, too visible.

Please let us know your thoughts on the story! And if you’ve read any of Joan Silber’s work, I’d love to hear about that as well.

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