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Joanna Walsh is a British writer and illustrator. Her writing has appeared in GrantaNarrative, and Guernica and has been anthologized in Dalkey’s Best European Fiction 2015Best British Short Stories 2014, and elsewhere. A collection, Fractals, was published in the UK in 2013, and her nonfiction book Hotel was published internationally in 2015. She writes literary and cultural criticism for The GuardianThe New Statesman, and The National, is the fiction editor at 3:am Magazine, and created and runs the Twitter hashtag #readwomen, heralded by the New York Times as “a rallying cry for equal treatment for women writers.” Read more about her at her website.

pages: 120

format: paperback

isbn: 978-0-9897607-5-1

publication date: October 2015


Joanna Walsh

* The Millions’ “Most Anticipated” * Flavorwire’s “33 Must-Read Books for Fall 2015” * Paper’s “10 Books You Should Be Reading this Fall” * The Huffington Post’s “15 Fantastic Books by Women to Read this Fall” * Entropy’s Best Fiction Books of 2015 * The Believer’s “Our Favorite Books from 2015”

Vertigo is an original and breathtaking book.” Chris Kraus

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Wry, alien, and intimate, the linked stories in Vertigo take us—with lucid precision—into the negative space of the everyday . . .


Read a story from Vertigo at Electric Literature’s “Recommended Reading,” here. Read a wide-ranging interview with Joanna at The Paris Review, and one specifically about Vertigo at Electric Literature.


“Beautifully simple and unembellished, Walsh’s writing—most captivating in its ability to unnerve—is cleverly revealing of her protagonist’s unique and sensitive personality.” the guardian

“Her writing sways between the tense and the absurd, as if it’s hovering between this world and another. This time last year, Dorothy brought us Nell Zink’s The Wallcreeper. Walsh’s Vertigo may similarly redistribute the possibilities of contemporary fiction, especially if it meets with the wider audience her work demands.” flavorwire, “33 Must Read Books for Fall 2015”

“With wry humor and profound sensitivity, Walsh takes what is mundane and transforms it into something otherworldly with sentences that can make your heart stop. A feat of language.” kirkus reviews, starred review

“Supple, floating stories that unfold like memories almost too painful to recall in an affectless voice that can be digressive or disarmingly direct but which is ultimately devastating.” the believer

“‘Think Renata Adler’s Speedboat with a faster engine . . . Vertigo reads with the exhilarating speed and concentrated force of a poetry collection. Each word seems carefully weighed and prodded for sound, taste, touch . . . The stories are delicate, but they leave a strong impression, a lasting sense of detachment colliding with feeling, a heady destabilization.” los angeles times

“The stories in Walsh’s Vertigo are equally strange and edgy. She’s a flâneur who’s just as capable of representing the exterior and interior wreckage with equal precision. She takes on big ideas—partnership, loneliness, femininity, etc.—through the vibrant minutiae of contemporary experience.” electric literature

“[H]er stories reveal a psychological landscape lightly spooked by loneliness, jealousy and alienation.” new york times

“The stories in Vertigo are by turns funny, surreal, modernist, remaining at all times accessible.” the irish times

“This beautifully wrought collection of stories made me think of tiny French cakes laid out in a patisserie: some tart, some sweet, some with a hidden centre, all beautifully constructed and each one exactly its own thing.” stylist

“Reading Vertigo has opened even wider my conceptions of what’s possible in fiction—how a book can be like a series of photographs, like cinema. These stories appear as much as they engage with narrative, saturated with a calm yet rich color. I’ve not read anything like it and feel it is quietly subverting the hell out of the form.” Amina Cain

“Stunning short, sharp shocks with insight that reminds me of the very personal work of Clarice Lispector. . . . Packs a wallop into a very small space. I suspect this will get some year-end kudos.” jeff vandermeer

“Joanna Walsh’s haunting and unforgettable stories enact a literal vertigo—the feeling that if I fall I will fall not toward the earth but into space—by probing the spaces between things. Waiting for news in a children’s hospital, pondering her husband’s multiple online flirtations or observing the tourists and locals at a third-world archeological site, her narrator approaches the suppressed state of panic coursing beneath things that are normally tamed by our blunted perceptions of ordinary life. Vertigo is an original and breathtaking book.” Chris Kraus

“Walsh handles the seismic events of life—a child in intensive care, a pregnancy morphing the body—with a sort of alien bluntness and mania for category that forces her language into bizarre, thrilling new shapes. A mind-blowing must-read.” left bank books, staff pick

Vertigo is artful, intelligent . . . Walsh is a sublimely elegant writer.” new statesman (uk)

“Splendidly wry and offbeat . . . both intellectual and aware. Stories to be digested slowly, and savored.” sunday herald (uk)

“I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book so full of space, though most of the distances are not geographical (some are)— they are distances from which women observe themselves living lives, and although these are lives mostly free of upheaval and privation, the unhurried urgency with which they are observed makes everything here seem vital and dangerous.” fanzine

“One of the singular joys in Walsh’s prose is how she questions and twists language systems until familiar words and expressions become uncanny, portals to a stranger world.” minor literature[s]

“This collection of work from 3:AM fiction editor Joanna Walsh makes the familiar alien, breaking down and remaking quotidian situations, and in the process turning them into gripping literature.” vol. 1 brooklyn

“Each story is aglitter with pain and insight . . . Moments of blazing perspicacity, creativity, intelligence, and dark humor are insanely abundant in [Walsh’s] writing; they pop at every turn: like nails in the sand: like diamonds in water.” numero cinq

“From the publisher that unearthed the brilliant and now-lauded Nell Zink comes another slim work of fiction as strange as it is compelling. Vertigo is a funny, absurd collection of stories.” the huffington post

“This is fiction infused with fine imagery, charged with an electric current, shockingly alive to new possibilities of rendering the mundane exquisite.” roughghosts

“[W]hile Walsh’s prose shares much stylistically with [Lydia] Davis’s, her depictions of women’s inner lives are closer to cinema. Vertigo summons the relentless long takes and domestic claustrophobia of Jeanne Dielman; the black-and-white minimalism and protracted flânerie of Cleo; the haunting silence at the center of Barbara Loden’s Wanda.” music & literature

Vertigo is a slim but deadly volume.” sydney review of books

“[T]his book is about how embarrassing it is to be alive, how each of us is continually barred from our self. . . . Vertigo is a writer’s coup.” the rumpus

“Walsh’s penetrating short story collection evokes the titular feeling of dizziness. . . . these stories offer a compelling pitch into the inner life.” publishers weekly


cover art:

photograph by Jennifer Pilch

Jennifer Pilch (poet/visual artist) is the author of Deus Ex Machina (Kelsey Street Press, 2015) and four chapbooks. She edits La Vague Journal.