The Fifth Woman Reviews

Foreword Review

“The mundane becomes poetic in Nona Caspers’s novel-in-vignettes, The Fifth Woman. Its atmosphere of grief is established with tight, beautiful prose. . . . There are no wasted words. The text itself is a pleasure.” … View More

Kirkus Review

"Caspers’ writing is spare and deceptively straightforward, lending even her realist portraits the soft edges of a dream. . . . Each vignette is short—some are only a page long—but poignant; as if Lydia Davis’ controlled remove had been sifted through the humor and immediacy of Michelle Tea. But it’s the accumulation of grief that matters here, almost as much as the details of domesticity, a quiet but tender declaration of queer love lost in San Francisco." …View More

Publishers Weekly

"This gem of a collection is a transcendent portrayal of bereavement, showing how death elevates the mundane and affects everything humans do, see, and think." … View More

Lambda Literary Review

"In twenty three connected exquisite moments (or stories) the novel constructs a map of loss, its creative potential, its capacity to tear open the world, trouble boundaries, and dust the daily with wonder. In The Fifth Woman, grief is queer-as-in-odd, as in boundary-blurring, as in otherways loving, as in curious. . . . You need a book, like this one, that reminds you of what your own lost love once told you, that everything can be written about, and because it explores so clearly the stage, the smoke, and the mirrors of this two-bit magic trick of existence: a person is here and then they are gone." … View More

Brandon Yu, The San Francisco Chronicle

". . mesmerizing, moving. . ."

Carson Beker, Lambda Literary

"In twenty three connected exquisite moments (or stories) the novel constructs a map of loss, its creative potential, its capacity to tear open the world, trouble boundaries, and dust the daily with wonder. In The Fifth Woman, grief is queer-as-in-odd, as in boundary-blurring, as in otherways loving, as in curious. . . . You need a book, like this one, that reminds you of what your own lost love once told you, that everything can be written about, and because it explores so clearly the stage, the smoke, and the mirrors of this two-bit magic trick of existence: a person is here and then they are gone."

Noah Sanders, Empty Mirror

"[I]ncredible. . .The Fifth Woman is an ecosystem of grief; a circular cloud of emotion, memory, and experience that bends towards the surreal, exploring, or so it seems, every nook and cranny of the aftermath of the death of a loved one."

Lisa Martin, The Guardsman

"The writing style is lyrical and the story moves through different elements—ants, the girlfriend, the apartment, water, the neighbors—to create a circular, dreamlike remembrance."

Stacey D’Erasmo

The Fifth Woman is stealthily astonishing from its first line to its last. Over the course of twenty-three connected short fictions, the writer marks out a trail of mourning that is both quite straightforward and miraculously layered, strange, and emotionally multifaceted. There is not a single sentence in these stories that is not as clear as water…. It is a wonderful book.”

Jean L. Thompson, author of Who Do You Love and The Woman Driver

"Grief alters the world in ways that are both expected and less so. The Fifth Woman is a story of love, loss, and carrying on, in language that is always precise and often transporting. There is a sadness here but also acute observation and magical happenings. Nona Caspers is a true original."

Peter Orner

"Let me just put it there: This is one of the most beautiful, sorrowful, light-infused love stories I’ve ever read. Some stories you walk around with for good. The Fifth Woman will be one of them. Nona Caspers will change the way you see. Can a reader ask for more?"

Heavier than air reviews

BookList

“The simplest acts—even just noticing one’s breath—become wondrous moments that push characters past anguish to reclaim their ‘bright, insistent, blooming’ lives. Darkly funny, compassionate, and unsentimental, these quiet stories offer memorable, rarely seen views of Midwestern life.”

New York Times Book Review

“Caspers details the many ways reality can interfere with our dreams….Throughout, Caspers’s people…question the decisions they’ve made or the ones they refuse to make. There’s nothing flashy about Caspers’s prose; like the beauty of the prairie itself, its attraction lies in details seen close up.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Revving up Willa Cather’s naturalism and lesbian undertones with Denis Johnson’s deadpan Plains rowdiness, these are like alt-country songs, tales of wild but not wild-eyed girls, and women as likely to be enraptured by the girl next door as by the lay of the land. The prose is exact, unsparing, unsentimental….Caspers’s pungent voice, her fairness to city and country mores, and the artful arrangement of her tales reward rereading. Simplicity this precise takes time, talent and considerable cultivation.”

The Short Review

“With her finger firmly fixed on the pulse of each heartbeat in these stories, Caspers is infinitely compassionate and revealing in her details, and the moments of dark comedy captured here leaven what’s already a compelling read.”

The Masters Review

"The Fifth Woman is told as a series of vignettes in which the narrator grapples with the sudden death of her partner. Caspers’ beautiful, moving novel is out from Sarabande this summer."

LAMBDA Book Report

“The elegantly crafted short stories…quietly buzz with life and secrets, like a hot summer afternoon in Midwestern farm county. There is a thread of longing that moves through the stories, as the characters watch their dreams decompose under reality’s harsh glare….Caspers is a careful, unsentimental and highly skilled writer….Like Anne Tyler, another Minnesota-born writer, Grace Paley and to a lesser extent Flannery O’Connor, Nona Caspers digs beneath the surface to examine the small details and then brings to life in this quiet, but lovely collection of stories.”