- Expected 3 Mar 2020
A ghostly feminist fable, Amina Cain’s Indelicacy is the story of a woman navigating between gender and class roles to empower herself and fulfill her dreams.
In 'a strangely ageless world somewhere between Emily Dickinson and David Lynch' (Blake Butler), a cleaning woman at a museum of art nurtures aspirations to do more than simply dust the paintings around her. She dreams of having the liberty to explore them in writing, and so must find a way to win herself the time and security to use her mind. She escapes her lot by marrying a rich man, but having gained a husband, a house, high society and a maid, she finds that her new life of privilege is no less constrained. Not only has she taken up different forms of time-consuming labor—social and erotic—but she is now, however passively, forcing other women to clean up after her. Perhaps another and more drastic solution is necessary?
Reminiscent of a lost Victorian classic in miniature, yet taking equal inspiration from such modern authors as Jean Rhys, Octavia Butler, Clarice Lispector and Jean Genet, Amina Cain's Indelicacy is at once a ghost story without a ghost, a fable without a moral and a down-to-earth investigation of the barriers faced by women in both life and literature. It is a novel about seeing, class, desire, anxiety, pleasure, friendship and the battle to find one’s true calling.
Amina Cain is the author of two collections of short fiction, Creature and I Go to Some Hollow. Her essays and short stories have appeared in n+1, Paris Review Daily, BOMB, Full Stop, Vice and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles and is a contributing editor at BOMB.
'There are no stakes, no rising action, no arc. Just a wild kind of lostness that’s as alluring as it is unsettling.' Los Angeles Times
‘Indelicacy is a novel like the tolling of a great bell. It will move your heart. Amina Cain’s writing is the rarest kind: it creates not only new scenes and characters, but new feelings.’ Sofia Samatar, author of Winged Histories
Cain (Creature) upends fairy tale endings in her stimulating story of insidious oppression. Vit ria works as a cleaner at an art museum in an unnamed large, modern city, skips meals to afford simple splurges like a nice blouse, and yearns almost compulsively for the time and freedom to write about art. She commiserates with her lazy co-worker Antoinette, who longs for a husband. When Vit ria marries a rich man, she glides into a life of ease only marred by quiet clashes with her cold housekeeper. Her husband does not understand the unfocused, self-reflective observations she finally has time to write, but pampers her with everything she wants. Vit ria feels naggingly unsatisfied and starts ballet lessons, where she befriends the most promising student, Dana. Vit ria's sense of being stifled increases when she reconnects with Antoinette, now happily married to a poor man, and watches Dana move into professional dancing roles. She hatches a devious plot to achieve a different kind of freedom. Vit ria's deadpan voice and Cain's finespun descriptions of quotidian disappointment energize this incisive tale. This novel disquiets with its potent, swift human dramas.