Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction - 2023
This genre-bending debut collection of stories constructs eight eerie worlds full of desire, wisdom, and magic blooming amidst decay.
In stories that beckon and haunt, Fruiting Bodies ranges confidently from the fantastical to the gothic to the uncanny as it follows characters—mostly queer, mostly women—on the precipice of change. Echoes of timeless myth and folklore reverberate through urgent narratives of discovery, appetite, and coming-of-age in a time of crisis.
In “The Changeling,” two young cousins wait in dread for a new family member to arrive, convinced that he may be a dangerous supernatural creature. In “Endangered Animals,” Jane prepares to say goodbye to her almost-love while they road-trip across a country irrevocably altered by climate change. In “Take Only What Belongs to You,” a queer woman struggles with the personal history of an author she idolized, while in “Fiddler, Fool, Pair,” an anthropologist is drawn into a magical—and dangerous—gamble. In the title story, partners Agnes and Geb feast peacefully on the mushrooms that sprout from Agnes’s body—until an unwanted male guest disturbs their cloistered home.
Audacious, striking, and wholly original, Fruiting Bodies offers stories about knowledge in a world on the verge of collapse, knowledge that alternately empowers or devastates. Pulling beautifully, brazenly, from a variety of literary traditions, Kathryn Harlan firmly establishes herself as a thrilling new voice in fiction.