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Better Times

Short Stories

Sara Batkie

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 09/2018
Pages: 156
Subject: Fiction
eBook ISBN: 9781496211958


Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the stories in Better Times focus on what's happening in places people don't think to look. Women, sometimes displaced, often lonely, are at the heart of these stories. In Better Times Sara Batkie focuses on the moments in women's lives when the wider world is wrapped up in other matters: a father and daughter, separated by time and an ocean, dreaming of each other; a girl in a home for "troubled women" imagining the journey of the first dog in space; a phantom breast returning to haunt a woman after her mastectomy; a young woman giving birth to a litter of eggs. Such are the ordinary women weathering extraordinary circumstances in Better Times. Divided into three sections covering the recent past, our current era, and the world to come, the stories gathered here—with characters stymied by loneliness, motherhood, illness, even cataclysmic climate change—interrogate the idea that so-called better times ever existed, particularly for women.   


Sara Batkie was born in Seattle and raised in the wilds of Connecticut and Iowa. Her stories have been published in various journals, received mention in the 2011 Best American Short Stories anthology, and honored with a 2017 Pushcart Prize. Currently she lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan as the Writing Programs Director for the Center for Fiction.  


"Sara Batkie is a writer for our times: lyrical and smart, clear-eyed and true. Better Times may portend just that—better times, at least for literature, in these dark hours."—Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

"With a controlled ferocity of perception, Sara Batkie lays bare a world in which all of us are spies and strangers, both to one another and ourselves. She's a kind of Jean Rhys for our time, and this is a haunting first collection."—Brian Morton, author of Florence Gordon and Starting Out in the Evening

"Better Times is a book of quiet passions, narrated with grace. In these nine finely observed stories Batkie explores with empathy the impolite agonies that change the gravity of her characters' worlds."—Tracy O'Neill, author of The Hopeful?