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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  30 reviews
"Indelicacy isn't merely a book, it's a world; a world I wanted to live in, forever . . . Arch, yet warm; aspiring and impervious; confiding and enigmatic; reposing and intrepid; Cain has conjured a protagonist who purged my mind and filled my heart." Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond

A ghostly feminist fable, Amina Cain’s Indelicacy is the story of a woman navigating
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Justin Tate
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Damn! What an accomplishment. There’s more to unpack in this slim 160 pages than most books can achieve with 500. The whole time I kept thinking of all my friends who would gobble this up like me, in one breathless sitting. I want to loan out my copy to everyone I know so we can talk about it—but I’m also scared they won’t want to give it back. Ahh! What a dilemma.

I would try to describe the gist of it, but that’s basically impossible and the less you know going in the better. I will only say
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Indelicacy is a very unusual book. My conventional mind tried very hard and failed to put it within any time and place constraints, and then decided it didn't matter. As the blurb rightly suggests, there is something Victorian about it, something about male and female attitudes, the protagonist having people to wait on her and other people to entertain, or perhaps the idea that the only way to escape a life of poverty and endless floors to mop is to marry a rich man?

At the beginning of the book
I read this novella mainly because it’s so brief (took me about 45 minutes); I found it quite bizarre in its lack of emotion, and wouldn’t have persisted had it been longer. It’s the narrative of a woman named Vitória who works as a cleaner in a museum, dreams of being a writer, then eventually marries a wealthy man. It is typical of the book that this is all she says about her wedding:

We were married at the start of the summer and hardly anyone attended—a few of his friends, a cousin from
This is a beautifully written story. I read this one slowly, so I could savor the language. My favorite parts of the book were the descriptions of the paintings. Such gorgeous writing!

A super big thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review! :)
Alissa Hattman
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To read Amina Cain is to enter tide pools of the mind. On its surface, her fiction is quiet, lovely, contained, but sit with any passage and that which seems still uncoils and comes alive. The reach of her fiction is an invitation to peer deep into our inner worlds.

In the tradition of the Künstlerroman, Cain’s debut novel Indelicacy follows the maturity and growth of an artist, and like Proust’s In Search of Lost Time or Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, it is a novel interested in consciousness, identity,
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m the first person to review this book and I’d hate to be indelicate about it (buh dum dum), but it isn’t the sort of thing that’s easy to recommend. Even the official description of it…the fable without a moral, the ghost story without a ghost…it’s meant to be clever and alluring, but when you think about it, it just kind of spotlights the insubstantiality of the entire thing. Personally, I didn’t really think of it as either of those descriptors, I’m not sure what it was. In was hoping for ...more
Rhiannon Johnson
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-february
Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for my complimentary review copy.

A cleaning woman marries a rich man but does not find peace in her new privilege. She dreams of writing but her new role consumes her time in new ways. This 176-page novella hit me in the same ways as The Resurrection of Joan Ashby. If you know me and my reviews, you know that is almost the highest praise I can possibly give!
Lolly K Dandeneau
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
via my blog:
“You’re different from when I last saw you,” she said.

“I married someone rich. Is that what you mean?”

She nodded. “It agrees with you.”

Vitória has been working since she was a child of twelve years old, years spent earning her keep, working her hands raw. Now a cleaner in an art museum alongside her friend Antoinette, she yearns for the freedom to think, write, exist for more than tidying up after the rest of the world. They spend their days
Helen McClory
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As with Cain's Creature I was enchanted by this work. The atmosphere is uniquely light and well-formed, though with echoes of Rhys and Lispector. It creates with a kind of power I am unable to pinpoint a space for calm and beautiful observation. It's not a book to rush through, but the kind of book that requires a quiet room with a view of the woods, or misty summer fields, in which to allow its space to flow into you and through you. It's wonderful, and you should all read it.
I really enjoyed Cain's other book Creature, a book of short meditative prose pieces. But this book, her first novel, didn't do much for me. There were passages that recalled the subtle brilliance of her unique brand of prose, but they were usually few and far between, lost in a novel that seemed to be set in the near-present, yet the attitudes of the narrator and other characters seem like those of another era.

Spoilers: the narrator talks almost like a kept woman; she starts off as a janitor,
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
I can't form thoughts yet!
Text Publishing
The following book reviews have been shared by Text Publishing – publisher of Indelicacy

'Amina Cain is a phenomenal writer. I adore her work, and sensibility. Indelicacy isn't merely a book, it's a world; a world I wanted to live in, forever. Its near-and-far atmosphere is partly due to Cain's unfazed handling of discrepant essences and qualities. Arch, yet warm; aspiring and impervious; confiding and enigmatic; reposing and intrepid; Cain has conjured a protagonist who purged my mind and
I think this was so frustrating because it felt like it had a lot of potential, or maybe I just found the audiobook reader's voice soothing. To the author's merit, I did want to keep on reading, but only to be disappointed. There were moments in this that were ok, but overall it was too confusing and strange to appreciate. I like books that don't make sense. Barbara Cormyn's The Vet's Daughter is sort of like that, but unlike this book, it actually works in its strangeness. Overall, rather ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amina is a genius. You can read my interview with her about this book on Full Stop:
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it

On time: The future came, as it always does, with its changes and its things that stay the same.

She's carrying with her that other time. We all carry our lives in us, not just our problems or nightmares, but something of what we were before.

On women: When women looked at her on the street, I could tell they took notice, especially when she was wearing this dress; still, they never paid her a compliment. Women can be horrible in that way. I complimented her repeatedly.

On children: " I'm
Hoped I Might Like It More---But?

This book had so much potential, but I'm still not sure where it went. Strange!

Vitoria, the novel's major character, gives a first-person account of a segment of her life. Written as a personal introspection, she descibes details of her life's progression from an art museum's cleaning woman, discovered by a wealthy professional man who "rescued" her from a life of drudgery and near poverty to become his wife and matron of a large household with servants.

In a true
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Vitória works as a cleaner in a museum. She cleans the bathrooms and polishes the benches but during her breaks she gazes at the art pieces and dreams. She writes her impressions of the paintings in a notebook which she never really intends for anyone to read. She writes because it makes her happy and helps her feel fulfilled in some way. There is something beautiful about escaping from everyday life through art, either as an observer or as an artist. She leaves the drudgery and dreariness of ...more
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
Thanks to NetGalley and FSG for an ARC of this book.

The description of this book as being out-of-time, half Victorian era novel but also not intrigued me enough to request an ARC, and ultimately, it turns out that's not really my thing. I respect the craft and spareness of the prose here, but I would have bailed halfway through if I had picked this up from the library.

The protagonist starts as a cleaning lady in an art gallery and marries rich, somehow becoming a ghost in her own life as she
Aaron Marsh
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020-books
You know that iconique moment from S10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race when then-season shit-stirrer The Vixen clapped her hands and said “TOO VAGUE!”? Welcome to Indelicacy.

I was quite puzzled by this one, and I feel nothing approaching affection towards it after a couple days of pondering. Whoever made the comparison to David Lynch that had me so excited to read this really ought to be examined. I just didn’t think there was a lot to it. I have no idea what it was getting at, other than the hollowness
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel tells the story of a writer who flits from a job as a museum cleaner. to a rich man’s wife, to a solitary countryside resident. Through each endeavor, relationship, and hobby she seems to be encased in a delicate soap bubble— apart from the world yet keenly observing it. The narrator gives me very strong Eleanor Oliphant vibes, even if that novel really is not similar at all to this one.

Netgalley provided me with an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Kathleen Gray
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
An unusual novella about a woman named Vitoria who goes from working as a cleaner in a museum to being the wife of a wealthy man who thinks about the people who now do the work she once did. To be honest, the publisher comments about this made no sense to me- a ghost story without a ghost, a fable without a moral, etc. Read into Vitoria what you will. The language is spare and it's worth the time spent to enjoy it. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. For fans of literary fiction.
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galleys
Novella. The story of a woman's self-actualization, told in journaled vignettes. The setting is ambiguous, but reads as late-19th/early-20th c. Continental. The book engages often with the process of translating visual imagery into text, resulting in meandering, poetic prose. A worrying undercurrent runs through the book, at times seeping into open acrimony -- The plot's jagged climax is delivered in an intense and unexpected change of language. Give it a spin.
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Indelicacy by Amina Cain is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early December.

The 1st-person narrator is a selfishly remarkable, a lower-class maid in a well-married imposter body, who writes little 1-2 pages vignettes of her present and former life, lax with ego and complacency. Just blah, not that easy to side with a lead character like this.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A slim novel on privilege and the writing life. There is a certain sadness around the central character, although her story has her taking control of her own destiny, eventually. Excellent use of how relationships change.
Julie (boogsbooks) Chigbrow
3.5 stars
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, 2020
4.5 stars
Dec 07, 2019 rated it liked it
got a ottessa moshfegh lite vibe here
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
The writing is good and this could have been a modern bovary, but the characters would have had to have, I dunno, traits?
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite new book!!!!
Liska Jacobs
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
God damn it this book is good. Little diamonds scattered throughout that cut deep. Haunting, and as a writer, devastating.
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Amina Cain is the author of two collections of stories: CREATURE (Dorothy, a publishing project, 2013) and I GO TO SOME HOLLOW (Les Figues Press, 2009). Her work has appeared in n+1, BOMB, Two Serious Ladies, The Paris Review Daily, and other places. She lives in Los Angeles.
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