This edition was edited by Jesmyn Ward.
I have never read Nicole Krauss before although a friend recently passed on her novel, THE HISTORY OF LOVE. Why did I choose this story? That question interests me: how do people pick the story to start with. In this case, it was the third one I tried. As usual, the George Saunders one was hard to get into. I was tempted by two writers I did know: Kevin Wilson and C. Pam Zhang but eventually this won out.
It's the story of a teenager who is placed in a school in Switzerland, mainly to get her out of the way while her father finishes a trauma course in medical school. Too young to board at the school, her parents find her a room in a boarding house (kind of amazing that a 13 year old would be on her own) where two other girls also board. They are older than her (18) and are toying to various degrees with their sexuality. The more interesting, Soraya, is Iranian and is having an affair with a banker but is also engaging in relationships with other men. Our narrator is fascinated by this glimpse into adult life and this has impact on how she goes on to see herself. She sees the power Soraya can wield but also its limitations.
Soraya disappears one night and her father flies in to look into this. An engineer to the Shah, he has sent his daughter to Switzerland with its promise of safety. Soroya returns and the threesome soon is separated. Our narrator looks for her off and on but never finds her. Our narrator admires Soroya's recklessness but it doesn't suit her in the end.
"She (Soraya) had gone further than anyone I knew in a game that was never only a game, one that was about power and fear, about the refusal to comply with the vulnerabilities one is born into."