Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Reader Reviews

Praise

"I love these stories. There's some fierce and steady activity in all of the sentences-something that makes them live, and makes them shift a little in meaning when you look at them again and they look back at you (or look beyond you)."
HELEN OYEYEMI, author of WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS and GINGERBREAD
"These poignant and deceptively quiet stories are powerhouses of feeling and depth; How to Pronounce Knife is an artful blend of simplicity and sophistication."—MARY GAITSKILL, author of VERONICA and SOMEBODY WITH A LITTLE HAMMER
"How to Pronounce Knife is a riveting, subversive collection that alights within us like a shock to the system. I find it miraculous - and liberating and joyful - that language so radiantly exact can be so raw, so brazen. This is a major work and a lasting one."—MADELEINE THIEN, author of DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING
"How to Pronounce Knife is a book of rarest beauty and power. Souvankham Thammavongsa has already earned a devoted readership for her poetry. And in each of these exquisitely crafted stories, we experience the profound emotional effects of economy and distillation. We feel the reverberating energy around each judiciously placed word. This is one of the great short story collections of our time. Do not miss it."—DAVID CHARIANDY, author of BROTHER and I'VE BEEN MEANING TO TELL YOU
"Souvankham Thammavongsa writes with deep precision, wide-open spaces, and quiet, cool, emotionally devastating poise. There is not a moment off in these affecting stories."—SHEILA HETI, author of HOW SHOULD A PERSON BE and MOTHERHOOD
"How to Pronounce Knife is a book of unusual ferocity and grace. Souvankham Thammavongsa carefully unpacks the aches and aspirations of immigrant and refugee life in tight, commanding prose; and these subtle yet shattering stories glow with empathy, humor, and wisdom."—MIA ALVAR, author of IN THE COUNTRY
"These stories have a quiet brilliance in their raw portrayal of the struggle to find meaning in difficult times and to belong in a foreign place. Thammavongsa writes with an elegance that is both brutal and tender, giving her stories and their characters a powerful voice."—BOOKLIST (Starred Review)
"Reading Souvankham Thammavongsa's How to Pronounce Knife is like finding, at last, a part of you that you had lost and had been searching for all this time. Not since the stories of Edward P. Jones have I encountered such a unified and yet wide-ranging vision-both geographically and emotionally-that captures the spirit of not only a community but of the greater world-then, now, the future. This is a book full of powerful resilience, great journeys, and above all else: fierce, heart-wrenching love."—PAUL YOON, author of SNOW HUNTERS
"These stories feel simple, but they move within you and it is impossible to let them go. They are sharp and vital. Thammavongsa is a master over the sentence."—DAISY JOHNSON, author of EVERYTHING UNDER
"Sharp and elegant. . . These brief stories pack a punch, punctuated by direct prose that's full of acute observations...This is a potent collection."—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Thammavongsa's radiant debut collection of short stories is full of precarity, strength, uncertainty, messiness and life."—MS. MAGAZINE
"These stories, written in a spare, distant register, twist the heart; Thammavongsa captures in a few well-chosen words how it feels for immigrant children to protect their parents. Moving, strange, and occasionally piercing."—KIRKUS
"How to Pronounce Knife is a masterful collection, written with so much veracity, you'll swear every word is true. Thammavongsa's prose is spare, the images she evokes so crystalline, they require no embellishment. Here is life, rendered with precision and insight. Instantly recognizable. She offers sharp sensory details, piercing imagery, endings that will punch you in the gut and leave you yearning for more."
SHARON BALA, author THE BOAT PEOPLE, winner of the Harper Lee Prize
"In under 200 pages, Canadian poet Thammavongsa showcases 14 spectacular stories in her fiction debut...a poignant, eyes-wide-open exploration...pristine short fiction-think Paul Yoon, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Phil Klay."—LIBRARY JOURNAL (Starred Review)
Read More Read Less
How to Pronounce Knife

How to Pronounce Knife

Stories

Spare, unsentimental, and distilled to riveting essentials, these “emotionally devastating” stories honor the surreal, funny, and often wrenching realities of trying to build a life far from home (Sheila Heti).

In the title story of Souvankham Thammavongsa’s debut collection, a young girl brings a book home from school and asks her father to help her pronounce a tricky word, a simple exchange with unforgettable consequences. Thammavongsa is a master at homing in on moments like this — moments of exposure, dislocation, and messy feeling that push us right up against the limits of language.

The stories that make up How to Pronounce Knife focus on characters struggling to find their bearings in unfamiliar territory, or shuttling between idioms, cultures, and values. A failed boxer discovers what it truly means to be a champion when he starts painting nails at his sister’s salon. A young woman tries to discern the invisible but immutable social hierarchies at a chicken processing plant. A mother coaches her daughter in the challenging art of worm harvesting.

In a taut, visceral prose style that establishes her as one of the most striking and assured voices of her generation, Thammavongsa interrogates what it means to make a living, to work, and to create meaning.
Read More

Genre: Fiction / Fiction / Short Stories (single Author)

On Sale: April 21st 2020

Price: $26

Page Count: 192

ISBN-13: 9780316422130