This Is Salvaged: Stories (Hardcover)
Named a most anticipated book of the year by Literary Hub, Electric Literature and The Millions
A Best Book of Fall 2023 by Bustle.
Pushing intimacy to its limits in prose of unearthly beauty, Vauhini Vara explores the nature of being a child, parent, friend, sibling, neighbor, or lover, and the relationships between self and others. A young girl reads the encyclopedia to her elderly neighbor, who is descending into dementia. A pair of teenagers seek intimacy as phone-sex operators. A competitive sibling tries to rise above the drunken mess of her own life to become a loving aunt. One sister consumes the ashes of another. And, in the title story, an experimental artist takes on his most ambitious project yet: constructing a life-size ark according to the Bible’s specifications. In a world defined by estrangement, where is communion to be found? The characters in This Is Salvaged, unmoored in turbulence, are searching fervently for meaning, through one another.
— Katie Yee - Literary Hub Most Anticipated Books of 2023
Vara’s The Immortal King Rao, a show-stopping novel about a Dalit immigrant who becomes extremely powerful, and about his child, was one of my favorite books that published in 2022, and this story collection promises to be at least as good. I first read a story from this collection, “I, Buffalo,” a decade ago in Tin House. It’s a heartbreaking, somehow very funny story about alcoholism, buffalos, and metamorphosis, one I must have reread a dozen times.
— R.O. Kwon - Electric Literature
Vara illuminates the threads that bind us...Readers are regaled with tales of extinction and de-extinction, death and survival here and elsewhere.
— Hana Rivers - High Country News
Vauhini Vara is on a roll...She’s back with a short-story collection that probes the relationships between people, observing humanity in multiple stages of life with humor and keen awareness.
— Hannah Bee - San Francisco Chronicle
This collection of stories is everything. From girlhood to grief, it explores intimacy, relationships, loss, motherhood, aloneness and alienation. Vara’s writing is emotional, arresting, chilling, surprising and effortlessly radiant.
— Karla Strand - Ms. Magazine
Stories that focus on the sublime and powerful bonds humans forge with one another.
— Jessica Blough, Ajay Orona, and Elizabeth Casillas - Alta Journal
In these tales, Vara has captured the fantasies, griefs and longings of life. From keen-eyed girlhood to delusional middle-age, the characters reach for more than is possible, falter, then reach for more. This Is Salvaged is a book for readers who need clarity and hope—that is to say: everybody. Read it!
— Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of Less is Lost
It takes tremendous courage and wit to look with wonder at the darkest, most shameful places in the human heart and make them hilarious, tender, and deeply moving; Vauhini Vara, with her grand-scale compassion and moral complexity in This is Salvaged, can do this magic with astonishing ease. I've been a fan since I read the story "I, Buffalo" years ago, and am so glad to (finally!) have a collection of Vara's stories in hand to admire and love.
— Lauren Groff, author of Matrix
I finished This is Salvaged and immediately wanted to re-read it. What a ride. Vauhini Vara's writing is immersive, yielding stories that are clever and surprising, heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny. A brilliant, deeply satisfying collection.
— Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
The stories in Vauhini Vara's This Is Salvaged are brilliant, entirely human, abidingly strange. She is one of our most inventive writers of fiction, as well as visionary, with a gift for writing about grief both extraordinary and ordinary. This Is Salvaged is unforgettable.
— Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Souvenir Museum
These dazzling stories take a kaleidoscopic and ferociously tender look at loss and what people hold onto or discover in the wake of it. This is Salvaged is frank enough to introduce its characters at their strangest and most vulnerable but is as interested in the aftermath of a breaking point as the break itself, excavating from grief a fragile and honest sense of hope. Vara has written a wholly original, insightful, and powerful collection.
— Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections
A haunting, moving, and wise story collection that leads us to and through the blood-slippery true nature of mourning, commitment, sisterhood, mothering, love, and death, amidst all the strangeness and lostness of the world.
— Sarah Thankam Mathews, author of All This Could Be Different
A poignant collection of stories that glimpse the salvation of human connection in the midst of modern alienation.
— Kirkus (starred review)
Vara invigorates with emotional insights, whimsy, and a precision with language. It’s a remarkable achievement.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)