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Shut Up You're Pretty

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  592 ratings  ·  121 reviews
In Téa Mutonji's disarming debut story collection, a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in fish, and a young woman decides to shave her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. These punchy, sharply obs ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 1st 2019 by VS. Books
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  592 ratings  ·  121 reviews


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Jessica Kafka | JustReadingJess
Shut Up You’re Pretty by Tea Mutonji is a very good book that discusses a lot of important issues.

Shut Up You’re Pretty is a collection of stories about a Congolese girl and her family that immigrate to Canada and goes through her becoming a woman. The description makes it sound like Shut Up You’re Pretty is about different women. However, it is actually all about the same person from girlhood to becoming a woman.

Shut Up You’re Pretty starts with Loli having a buzz cut. She came to Canada with
...more
Catherine Hernandez
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book asks us to witness the journey of a girl into womanhood, holding in her arms the fragile understandings of femininity as a commodity, femininity as a caretaker, femininity as a storyteller. Dulled by the residue of trauma and sharpened by the expectations of the streets, Téa’s characters are painfully and beautifully rendered in this gritty must-read novel.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is the first book from the VS. Books Imprint at Arsenal Pulp, headed up by Vivek Shraya, who created the imprint to "create more inter­generational dialogue and support for artists of colour. Each year, Vivek offers a mentorship opportunity for a young writer who is Indigenous, Black, or a person of colour, as well as a publishing contract with Arsenal Pulp Press under the VS. Books imprint." I didn't know that when I requested the review copy, just thought the title was funny.

All the stori
...more
Erin
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Taking place in Scarborough, Ontario, this is a series of vignettes about Loli, a Congolese girl who accompanies her mother and brother and meets up with her father in Canada. The stories are the coming of age of a young woman who is confronted with many different sexual encounters and relationships in her neighborhood.

One thing I shared at bookclub was that as I perused different interviews with the author and critical reviews, I couldn't relate to the suggestion that Loli was a character read
...more
chantel nouseforaname
I love a book set in Scarborough/Toronto. You can feel everything, see everything. Especially if you're from the city. You can let the book walk you down the street.

I think Téa Mutonji's writing is beautiful. She writes with so much emotion and so much passion. Her main character Loli, you really go on her life's journey with her. You feel the pain of feeling secondary, her confusion and then realization of her power. You feel her feeling never quite enough and bouncing around looking for somet
...more
Maria Zuppardi
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Read my full review on my blog, ReadingMaria.

All of the stories tie in well with each other, and the characters we meet along the way are all vital in their own way. I really admire how resourceful our narrator is; we see her go from one fall back to the next, and it was inspiring seeing her growth (despite her bad decisions).

Any Canadian Literature supporter would enjoy this book – especially those who have been interested in authors from Scarborough, like Carrianne Leung, Adrian De Leon, Cathe
...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Told in first person by a single female narrator common to each story, this collection speaks to the experiences of women in a post-coming-of-age setting... capturing the spaces imposed on women as they settle into their own identity. This was a refreshingly honest read, tinged with gritty realities (abortion and rape, to name just a few) that made for a compulsive and immersive read. I look forward to more works from this author and releases from this imprint!

Thanks to the publisher for an e-AR
...more
Daniel
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
« I tried not to make everything about sex, every act of kindness, every well-wish, every hello. But you go through life being touched, you go through life being looked at, you go through life with an uncle commenting on your breasts, or your brother’s friend giving you a condom for your birthday then denying it, you go through life being called a cunt on public transportation, you go through life being followed at midnight, you go through life being told you’re pretty, you’re pretty, you’re so ...more
Kimberley
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Every woman’s journey to figuring out who she is, and how she deserves to be loved, is different. There’s no right or wrong way to get to those points, but if the starting point is littered with traumatic experiences and overwhelming confusion, as to what love is supposed to look like, then it can be messy.

This collection represents a microcosm, of sorts, of the ways in which the messiness can hinder the process of a woman “becoming” something more than a source of pleasure—sexual or otherwise—f
...more
Sheharzad ⚘ (hiatus galore)
the author read one of her stories on my campus and hearing it, i felt like i knew the place, setting, and atmosphere. i was hearing my little corner of toronto in the story and i felt it encapsulated perfectly! i can't wait to read the rest of it!
Leah
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Almost unbearably raw. Painfully honest. Exquisitely written.
I will never look at the corner of Lawrence and Galloway the same way.
Margaryta
This is one of those rare moments when I don't know how I feel about a book. I neither loved nor hated "Shut Up You're Pretty." I agree with other reviewers who said it reads really easily; Mutonji's writing grabs your attention and carries it, although I think it would've worked a bit better if it was framed more as an experimental novel than as a series of short stories BECAUSE of how interconnected each of the pieces was. Similarly, the content of this book can be hard to stomach at times and ...more
Kasia
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book does not read as a collection of short stories but more as a through-line narrative about a young Congolese woman growing up in Toronto. It handles difficult subject matter with honesty and resilience. Would highly recommend
2TReads
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
-Olivia had gotten into these sober parties as a new way to meet "normal women". You know the kind—broken but not finished, down on their knees but not yet weeping. Pretty but not pretty enough to be feared-.
🌺🌺🌺🌺
Tea Mutonji has written a collection of short stories that centres girlhood, womanhood and femininity in Shut Up You're Pretty. Loli comes of age in these stories and explores sexual expressions, friendships, romantic entanglements, complex familial ties and the power of being a woman a
...more
Mridula
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
I loved this book for its bold and brassy writing. Téa Mutoni uses simple prose when writing about difficult topics:

'...you go through life being touched, you go through life being looked at, you go through life with an uncle commenting on your breasts, or your brother's friend giving you a condom for your birthday then denying it, you go through life being called a cunt on public transportation, you go through life being followed at midnight, you go through life being told you're pretty, you'r
...more
Anna
i liked that the stories were all about the same character and were in chronological order. they weren't all super captivating but it was a quick read and i had a good time.
Josh Hedgepeth
I mentioned I was reading this in my September 18th, 2020 Friday Reads.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC of this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I had mixed feelings about this set of short stories when I first started. I did not recognize that they were connected for the first four or five; that left me very confused. As stand-alone stories, I thought they were well written and had really provocative ideas they were exploring, but they never quite took it far enough. E
...more
Meg
Apr 26, 2019 added it
Yay! (Also, man is it nice to read in English again, I should get so good at French 😥)
Alanna Why
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This is a great collection of short stories that all have the same protagonist and progresses in a linear way similar to a novel. The collection starts with the narrator as a young girl immigrating to Canada as a Congolese refugee and follows her growing up in low-income housing in the Galloway area of Scarborough. I really liked the early stories that focused on the relationship between the protagonist Loli and her best friend Jolie, they had a My-Brilliant-Friend-But-In-Scarborough energy that ...more
Mairéad
Listened to Audiobook via Scribd.

A collection of short stories following the life of the main character, from the time she moves to Canada from the Republic of Congo, as a young teenager.

Representation:
Own Voices - Congolese immigrant moving to Canada
LGBT - several female/female relationships, and a trans side-character.

I liked the later stories in the collection, which followed the main character as an adult. I also liked how the representation of LGBT was handled.

I found the stories where she
...more
Lauren
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
This is a short and sweet collection of short stories, all tied together with an overarching narrative. Loli and her family move from the Congo when she's a young girl, relocating to Galloway, Canada - the book tracks her development from a young immigrant girl to a fully-formed woman, the strange and impactful people she meets, her addictions, her bad habits, her friendships, her losses. It's not a pretty book; in fact, her life is often quite ugly, dark, and sad. Mutonji writes about difficult ...more
Carmel
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Everything about this book is shocking in all the most amazing ways that a reader could be shocked. I mean, that cover! The title! Shut up with that title! I love it!

This collection of stories is told in the first person, making it feel so raw and honest and personal. I kept assuming these stories were true parts of the author’s life (even more so than a memoir, which I always assume is exaggerated).

The POV is so unique in a variety of ways: our protagonist (I felt as though she was a singular
...more
Annastasia
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had the chance to listen to the audiobook version of this book and wow, what a collection of stories! Mutonji has such a way of capturing raw emotion that is both startling and absolutely gripping. As someone who also grew up in Scarborough, I always have a huge sense of pride when I read about places close to where I called home, even if the experiences differ vastly from my own. Mutonji did a really great job of capturing the varying narratives present in the Toronto suburb. From poverty to ...more
Lara
Jul 29, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm not sure why but I actually thought this was autobiographical. The writing felt very authentic, personal and real. And I don't know I'm kind of disappointed it's just fiction. I feel like I would have appreciated it way more as non-fiction.

But back to the actual story. I couldn't really relate to the narrator and I was often a bit lost as to how old the narrator was and how to fit everything together. This was a bit of an uncomfortable, depressing book - which in itself wouldn't be a proble
...more
Kara Passey
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5? not quite what I was expecting, but still pretty good. in general I liked the shorter chapters better than the couple of longer ones. I thought the stories in this collection would be more disconnected but they all centred on the same main character at different points in her life, so it was more like a regular book that happened to jump around a lot than the short story collections I typically read. anyways I enjoyed reading this and there were some really great moments. idk if I really co ...more
Suzanne
I didn’t choose a star rating for this book because I’m still sifting through my feelings.
I do feel it’s pitched incorrectly since it’s a solid narrative and not a group of stories that stand alone.
The whole thing explores trauma and there’s quite a bit of sexual assault, drug abuse, a suicide etc.
It’s written in experimental but beautiful prose, but the subject matter is intentionally difficult. Thus the lack of a star rating.
Give it a read if you’re looking to delve into generational trauma, r
...more
Laura
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a bleak book. I really enjoyed the way it simply presented moments, without necessarily trying to explain or define them. It's the sort of book that I find really hard to remember anything about weeks later, but that feels very vital and urgent while I'm reading it. The writing here is really lovely, too--it's sharp and crisp and detailed, straightforward in a way that really works for me.
Charlotte Jones
Jun 16, 2020 marked it as dnf
The characters are young and impressionable so the overtly sexual topics felt uncomfortable to read about. Two stories in I decided this was just not what I wanted to spend my time reading. Mutonji brilliantly crafts a sense of place, and the topics discussed are important ones but I just didn't want to carry on.
Cookie Beltran
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
God this chick lived a living hell. It's so sad how people will not to take you seriously just because of the color of your skin. 3.5 stars.
Ciarra
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbttqa
The way Mutonji builds character is unforgettable, both in Loli and all of the people she encounters throughout her life. It’s a tiny book with so much beauty packed into it.
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