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Indelicacy Reviews

Indelicacy by Amina Cain


Amina Cain

4.22 out of 5

5 reviews

Imprint: Daunt Books
Publisher: Daunt Books
Publication date: 2 Jul 2020
ISBN: 9781911547587

A ghostly feminist fable about class, desire, friendship and the battle to find one's true calling.

4 stars out of 5
18 Oct 2020

"a slim novel with the heft of a much larger one"

There’s a clutter-free coolness to the form and focus of this U.S. novel that recalls the attitude of Outline-era Rachel Cusk...

Narrated with gnomic mystery as well as lethally disarming candour, it’s a slim novel with the heft of a much larger one.


5 stars out of 5
Holly Williams
27 Sep 2020

"Amina Cain’s enigmatic debut novel follows a female writer’s path from the constraints of home and marriage to creative freedom"

Indelicacy, though, is a thing of real delicacy, with a fine, distilled quality to the writing, every word precisely chosen, precisely placed. At first it seems almost too sparse, each chapter just a few pages, with Vitória as enigmatic and elusive as her surroundings. We’re in an unnamed country in an unnamed point in history. But there’s a slyness to Cain’s writing that cuts through, and makes the tale increasingly engrossing. By the end, you walk in step with her heroine as she finds her own path towards freedom. There’s also an intriguing playfulness, initially obscured by all that poise, that seems to resist the reader’s expectations of historical realism. 

4 stars out of 5
Sarah Gilmartin
23 Sep 2020

"An extraordinary feminist fable about women and art"

Dana, in particular, is a confidante on the art monster within as she explains her fears of not making it in ballet: “ ‘I’m afraid it’s too late,’ she said early on in our conversations. ‘I didn’t start young enough.’ ” Vitoria knows exactly what she means and, crucially, she knows exactly what needs to be said in response.

Indelicacy is a call-out to female artists and would-be artists across the ages.

4 stars out of 5
17 Sep 2020

"There are remarkable things in this book, often revealed by close, slow reading"

Cain — like more established US literary stars such as Jenny Offill and Ottessa Moshfegh — writes in a style I have started to call “modern flat”. It has qualities that include, but are not limited to, deceptively simple structures, first person narration, usually by a woman, and short, almost curt sentences. All of which serve to conceal something deeper, and sometimes unsettling, beneath that calm surface.  As Dana, one of Vitória’s friends, observes: “You are fascinated by everything around you.” Cain’s slim volume reminds us that meaning and fascination is all around us: “The lake, calm and alive, growing darker as the day grew dark . . . showing me something of life, how to exist.”

4 stars out of 5

"the author fulfils with an intricate grace that endures long after the setting down of this deceptively slim book."

You get the sense that our author, as well as our heroine, is aware of the limits of words; the visual is conjured as much by what is absent. Her bone-clean prose creates a sense of immersion in a story that feels both mythic and true... A woman’s search for creativity is not a new subject, yet Cain has made it so. “How happy I was. I had created an experience for someone; I hadn’t been sure I could actually do that,” says Vitória, when a friend reads her writing – the goal of all art, and one that the author fulfils with an intricate grace that endures long after the setting down of this deceptively slim book.