The Poison That Purifies You
by Elizabeth Kadetsky
An Italian soul-seeker in India encounters an antique racist toy-bank from 19th-Century America and believes it to be an incarnation of Krishna. A fertility-seeking single woman in New York’s Chinatown becomes fixated on a Chinese boy and plots a kidnap. An American archaeologist suffers from under-medicated bipolar disease after the 1976 earthquake in Guatemala. A New Yorker interprets the small earthquake of 2011 as a sign of conspiracy, and her obsession masks feelings of grief surrounding the disappearance of her self-destructive twin sister.
Following the existential mystery of Paul Auster, Paul Bowles' critique of the tourist, and Flannery O'Connor's redemptive grotesques, Kadetsky adds a sharp and nuanced voice to the short story, calling upon her extensive travels abroad and study of languages for a portrayal of innocents often caught in the tangles of global alliance and discord.
I was transfixed, awed, shocked, and transported, story after story. Kadetsky’s fiction is so brave and complex and beautifully written; it pushes the boundaries of comfort and makes your heart pound. Earthquakes, kidnappings, marauding monkeys; men who thieve and menace and hurt; acts of love and God and shame—it’s all there, in Kadetsky’s bright and mesmerizing world.
–Rachel Cantor, A Highly Unlikely Scenario
In The Poison That Purifies You, Kadetsky deftly constructs fully realized places—some foreign, some more familiar—and fully realized characters—some of them more like us than we’d like to admit. She tugs gently on these places and people until she finds their loose strings, and begins spooling out quiet strands of damage or dread. Before you know it, the dread is your own. These stories sneak up on you, hijack you, and before you know it, it’s too late. A stunning and deft first collection.
–Brian Evenson, Windeye
Unexpected as the work of Paul Bowles, unflinching as Flannery O’Connor’s, these stories are journeys not just into far flung places but into the most mysterious parts of our psyches. And, like the best adventures, they will open your eyes and change your heart and leave you breathing hard. Elizabeth Kadetsky is a brave writer and a masterful guide; she approaches fiction with a searching and strength that makes me want to follow her anywhere.
–Josh Weil, The Great Glass Sea