You Will Never Be Forgotten
Shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection 2021
‘Wickedly, exquisitely hilarious’ – Alexandra Kleeman
‘Open-source desire, self-replicating fantasy’ – Tom McCarthy
‘A brilliant and brilliantly strange and strangely funny and menacing debut!’ – Sam Lipsyte
In this provocative, bitingly funny debut collection, people attempt to use technology to escape their uncontrollable feelings of grief, rage or despair, only to reveal their most flawed and human selves.
An architect draws questionable inspiration from her daughter’s birth defect. A content moderator for ‘the world’s biggest search engine’, who spends her days culling videos of beheadings and suicides, turns from stalking her rapist online to following him in real life. At a camp for recovering internet trolls, a sensitive misfit goes missing. A wounded mother raises the second incarnation of her child.
In You Will Never Be Forgotten, Mary South explores how technology can both collapse our relationships from within and provide opportunities for genuine connection. Formally inventive, darkly absurdist, savagely critical of the increasingly fraught cultural climates we inhabit, these ten stories also find hope in fleeting interactions and moments of tenderness. They reveal our grotesque selfishness and our intense need for love and acceptance, and the psychic pain that either shuts us off or allows us to discover the greatest depths of empathy. This incendiary debut marks the arrival of a perceptive, idiosyncratic, instantly recognizable voice in fiction – one that could only belong to Mary South.
[An] edgily brilliant debut collection . . . Bringing together emotion and technology, South's stories are comfortless but very sharp. * Sunday Times * [A] brilliantly biting debut . . . In a world that is more 'connected' than ever, loneliness is still endemic, hearts break, and melancholy and rage win out over the cool disinterest of machines every time. * Daily Mail * Weird and often wonderful . . . a joltingly strange critique of the contemporary moment. * Metro * Mary South's You Will Never Be Forgotten is one of the most luminous, funny, totally thought-provoking story collections I have ever read. Don't miss it. -- Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain Mary South's wickedly, exquisitely hilarious collection dwells in the intimate aches of modern life, writ large in strange, delightful stories that include, but are not limited to, clones, brain surgery, internet trolls, and warehouses full of spare men. Dazzlingly imagined and full of wit, You Will Never Be Forgotten is a gift to readers everywhere, a ferocious transmission from one of the most audacious, most original new voices in fiction. -- Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine South's odd and wondrous short stories take place in a near future in which people broken by grief and loneliness use and work with technology that is meant to cure, or at the very least lessen, their hurt . . . At her best, South is reminiscent of George Saunders, replete with strangeness and dark humor. This intriguing collection should put South on readers' radars and is perfect for fans of Black Mirror. * Booklist * Written with dark humor and a striking lack of sentimentality, these stories are vehicles for characters who each use tech to try to retrieve that which is irrevocably lost. * The Atlantic * Prescient and unsettling . . . You Will Never Be Forgotten's stories are united by South's keen examination of the thrill and risk of human connection . . . [South] shows us there is still tenderness to be found, and protected, in the brave new world to come. * The Nation * Mary South couldn't have predicted our current moment, but her stories could not feel timelier . . . The universes she conjures skate between science fiction-like dystopia and an all-too-familiar present reality . . . South is fixated in particular on women and the challenges they face in this always-online era - how they and their bodies can be manipulated, distorted, abused. Her depictions of pregnancy and childbirth bring to mind a Margaret Atwood-esque darkness. * New York Times * What a heady, delicious, devastating collection. These stories, in their limitless wit and invention, begin as satisfying intellectual puzzles and then bloom into something fiercer, wilder - expanding to contain the fullness of dread, loss, longing, shame, terror. Mary South has written a tremendous book. -- Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson While Mary South's stories feature the cutting-edge technology of our present and near future, what makes this collection so exceptional is the deft hand with which she can peel back the sheen of novelty to get to the core of these characters' triumphs and struggles. With sharp insight and wit, South lays bare the timeless truths of love, loss and loneliness at the heart of these stories. -- Sara Novic, author of Girl at War Mary South's stories are a vital mix of wry humor, cunning provocation, disturbing prophecy and deep feeling. A brilliant and brilliantly strange and strangely funny and menacing debut! -- Sam Lipsyte, author of Hark Mary South gets it. With dark humor, she knocks down like so many lined-up ducks all the consoling pieties that nurture humanist fiction, and sets up in their place a vision of subjects irremediably mediated, strung out along networks that far exceed them. Her universe is glitchy, full of weakly-encrypted memory, open-source desire, self-replicating fantasy: the human in hock to the algorithm. -- Tom McCarthy, author of Satin Island One of the strangest and most exciting collections I've read in recent times. This is what I hope for from speculative fiction: an unease that pulls you through the story with urgency, but also delivers new formations of haunting questions that linger long after the story ends. -- Jac Jemc, author of The Grip of It Here are ten stories of loneliness and loss, bristling with gallows humor, and wrought of nimble, gleefully exacting sentences. With wide-reaching curiosity and deadpan wit, Mary South writes the absurdity and banality of technology-damaged life. -- Kathryn Scanlan, author of Aug 9 - Fog South's stories are both funny and profound, often on the same page, but perhaps her best skill is plumbing the intricacies of loneliness, expertly dissecting what that term means in a technology-driven world. This is an electric jolt from a very talented writer. * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * Imagine Black Mirror by way of Karen Russell and you'll get a sense of this mordant and wondrous collection of short fiction. -- O Magazine "Inventive, exciting, daring, clever" doesn't go far enough, though this collection is all of these things. I love these stories. I whoop in honour of their wicked wit, sharp intelligence, and imaginative reach. What joy! -- Megan Bradbury, author of Everyone is Watching I love the whipsmart energy and technology-run-amok vibe to these stories; seething with glitch and mania and mega-bite humour, they are also achingly apt explorations of the quicksand gap between digital and physical existence. Wonderful. -- Alan McMonagle, author of Ithaca
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?