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Discussion Guide

A House Is a Body: Stories

By Shruti Swamy

A House Is a Body will not simply be talked about as one of the greatest short story collections of the 2020s; it will change the way all stories—short and long—are told, written, and consumed. There is nothing, no emotion, no tiny morsel of memory, no touch, that this book does not take seriously.  Yet, A House Is a Body might be the most fun I’ve ever had in a short story collection.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

 

Dreams collide with reality, modernity with antiquity, and myth with identity in the twelve arresting stories of A House Is a Body. Set in the United States and India, Swamy’s characters grapple with motherhood, relationships, and their bodies to reveal small but intense internal moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.

 

In “Earthly Pleasures,” a young painter living alone in San Francisco begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities, and desire and ego are laid bare. In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s professional crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy. And in the title story, an exhausted mother watches, hypnotized by fear, as a California wildfire approaches her home. Immersive and assured, provocative and probing, these are stories written with the edge and precision of a knife blade.

 

A House Is a Body introduces a bold and original voice in fiction, from a writer at the start of a stellar career.


Don't miss Shruti Swamy's debut novel, The Archer (available September 7, 2021), which has already been longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.

Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to guide your next book club meeting.

Dreams and mirrors appear at many points in this collection. How do these motifs relate to the themes of these stories?
Do you generally enjoy reading short story collections? What does the form offer the reader that differs from a novel?
Discuss how the stream of consciousness narration affects your reading of the story “A House Is a Body.”

Click here to read an essay written by Shruti Swamy. 

 

This discussion guide was shared and sponsored in partnership with Algonquin.