The difficulty with writing about any collection of short stories by Hall is that I have only ordinary, prosaic language to describe them—whereas Hall's writing soars. With elements of science fiction, folktale and myth, these extraordinary stories move from rain-soaked Cumbrian villages to far futher afield. She is the only writer ever to be shortlisted three times for the BBC National Short Story Award, and has also been twice nominated for the Man Booker. My favourite here is the opening "M" in which a lawyer transforms into an avenging angel, buoyed by cold rage.
At a slim 124 pages, the seven stories in Sudden Traveller merit savouring slowly: several of them reward rereading. Hall’s prose is briny and sensual — unsurprising, perhaps, from an author who describes the process of writing as “physical, tactile almost”. Her lyricism — “the sea is black, bladed, strung with small lights” — reveals the influence of James Salter, but it’s a voice, fierce and unapologetic, uniquely her own. Despite the accolades for her five novels, including two Booker prize nominations, Hall has said that she is most proud of her short stories — “art reduced into something more pure”.
Much lauded, Sarah Hall has scooped up several of Britain’s rapidly proliferating literary awards. Written in a poetic prose and veering into fantasy, the fluent new collection Sudden Traveller (Faber £12.99) shows her sensational trademark themes of sexuality and mortality in various shapeshifting combinations...
Consciously striving for the profound, vividly done and never less than readable, it is all a heady and viable mix of visceral and slick.
Death stalks the pages of Sarah Hall’s latest collection. In seven lyrical, highly imaginative tales, the novelist and former winner of the BBC national short story award explores grief, mortality, female rage and rituals, both ancient and new... As the title suggests, all the characters in Sudden Traveller are journeying towards something both unknowable and yet inevitable: “all those named and nameless fears that finally exhausted and controlled everything, when there was really no control, not in the end.” Slipping seamlessly between fantasy and reality, it is an ambitious, powerful and, at times, deeply unsettling book.