Mary South’s debut novel documents a world in which women are turning into common household objects, such as vacuums, microwave ovens, and flatscreen televisions. The novel’s protagonist observes this process of transformation into the mundane while she works as a nurse at a hospice for women of the 1%, where only the rich and the famous can receive adequate care while enduring such a painful and unusual change.
Through her work with the transforming and transformed, the nurse, whose own mother is turning into a television, bears witness and somehow also learns to more fully inhabit her own life. Conceived as Kazuo Ishiguro’s NEVER LET ME GO meets J. G. Ballard’s CRASH, with Katherine Dunn’s GEEK LOVE mixed in, South’s unsettling novel is an eerie and dark sendup of our first-world capitalist culture, where the consequences of our toxic habits and malignant carelessness are supernaturally manifested first upon the female body. Through its absurdist premise, it also mines the manner in which we cope with illness and our increasing reliance on immediate gratification and disposability.
Mary South’s collection of short stories, YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2019. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and the MFA program in fiction at Columbia University where she was a Henfield Scholar. She has studied with Ben Marcus, Sam Lipsyte, and Gordon Lish, and worked alongside Diane Williams for many years as an editor at the literary journal NOON. Her writing has appeared in The Collagist, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, The New Yorker’s “Book Bench,” NOON, and Words Without Borders.