A daughter explains to her mother why calling the police isn’t always a sound idea. A dad tries to understand how his influence over his children persists in their adulthood. A caretaking group of sisters must rely on each other, but one has a fierce drinking problem. Throughout Nosy White Woman, ordinary people, caught in the passing moments of their daily lives, confront the reality that the quiet societies they thought they knew aren’t really so simple after all, the morals not always obvious. In these sixteen stories, Martha Wilson turns a clear-eyed yet compassionate gaze on everyday experience, from rattled family discussions, to self-examination of body and voice, to increasingly present anxieties about the end of the world, stripping each one down with precision and sardonic wit to reveal surprising truths: that individual lives always intersect with the political, and that our small gestures and personal habits reverberate in the larger world of which we can’t help being citizens.
Martha Wilson’s fiction has appeared in Best Canadian Stories 2017 and in the New Quarterly. She was runner-up for the 2017 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Prize and a finalist for the New South 2018 fiction prize. Her writing has also been in Real Simple, New York Times, Japan Times, Kansai Time Out, and International Herald-Tribune. She is American but for more than twenty years has made her home in Canada, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.
PRAISE FOR NOSY WHITE WOMAN
"Intimate...Wilson presents a kaleidoscope of complicated women finding their way through parenthood, partnership, and career goals...Wilson has a deft hand for examining how the larger world infiltrates the everyday. Her characters are richly conceived...keenly observed, extremely human stories." —Booklist
"Wilson achieves a rare laudable consistency throughout...While her settings might feel commonplace—kitchen-table dramas, extended holiday gatherings, generational disconnects, neighborly interactions—Wilson adds an extra quirk, an unexpected fleeting detail, a sudden revelation that ensures a satisfyingly lingering resonance with each and every story." —Shelf Awareness
"The people in Martha Wilson’s stories are self-aware and grounded, often with an affinity for nature — they garden, love animals, bake muffins for the farmer’s market. Good people, curious and intuitive. The stories defy easy summary, because each involves dozens of resonant incidents and insights." —Toronto Star
“Martha Wilson is one of those authors who gives the impression of knowing all our secrets and liking us anyway. She writes with wit and compassion about ordinary people dealing as well as they can with life’s immensities – growing up, getting married, becoming parents, watching their own parents age and die. Halfway through this wonderful collection of stories, I knew I would recognize Martha Wilson’s voice whenever I encountered it. And I hope I will encounter it often.” —K.D. Miller, author of Late Breaking and the Rogers Writers’ Trust-shortlisted All Saints
“Resonates in that narrow space where everyday life drips with meaning and the quiet world around us breathes its secrets. Nosy White Woman both elevates the ordinary and strips back its facade to reveal the often uncomfortable truths it hides.” —Charlie Lovett, New York Times-bestselling author of The Bookman's Tale and The Lost Book of the Grail
“Nosy White Woman is a collection of compelling stories replete with delicious contradictions. Filled with sardonic, sly humour, the stories can be as touching and fleeting as daily life. The book catches today's zeitgeist, while the style is at once traditional and decidedly contemporary. I looked forward to every spare moment I could find to read this terrific collection.” —Antanas Sileika, author of Provisionally Yours and The Barefoot Bingo Caller
“If I say morally subtle, I’m worried you won’t get how thrilling these stories are. And oh, they are thrilling. Martha Wilson plumbs the smallest moments of everyday life—of aging, marriage, parents and children—to unclog the biggest questions. In her gloomy and hilarious way, she makes familiar dramas, insults, and injuries—what one narrator calls “the small tragedies”—sparklingly fresh. If you’re looking for crescendo and certainty, though, then don’t read this absolutely quietly perfect book that I devoured through the night with a headlamp on because that’s how good it is.” —Catherine Newman, author of Catastrophic Happiness and Waiting for Birdy
“Martha Wilson’s curiosity about the world is wide-ranging and generous. In these fine stories, she brings a tender, courageous and precise attention to her characters’ foibles and concerns, while charting the places where ordinary lives intersect with and react to the political.” —Kim Aubrey, author of What We Hold in Our Hands