Very Cold People

A Novel
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The much-anticipated debut novel from the author of 300 Arguments: a shattering account of growing up and out of the suffocating constraints of small-town America.

For Ruthie, the frozen, snow-padded town of Waitsfield, Massachusetts, is all she has ever known. But this is no picturesque New England. Once "home of the bean and the cod, where Lowells speak only to Cabots, and Cabots speak only to God," by the tail-end of the twentieth century it is an unforgiving place, awash with secrets.
 
Very Cold People tells Ruthie's story through her eyes: from the shame handed down through her immigrant forebears and indomitable mother, to the violences endured by her high school friends, each suffering a fate worse than the last. For Ruthie, Waitsfield is a place to be survived--and a girl like her would be lucky to get out alive.
 
In her eagerly anticipated debut novel, Sarah Manguso has produced – with her characteristic precision – a masterwork on how very cold places make for very cold people: an ungilded portrait of girlhood at the crossroads of history and social class, and a pitiless look at an all-American whiteness.
 

Praise

“Sarah Manguso is one of the most original and exciting writers working in English today. Every word feels necessary, and she’s redefining genre as she goes.”—Jhumpa Lahiri, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Interpreter of Maladies

Very Cold People knocked me to my knees. So precise, so austere, so elegant, this story is devastatingly familiar to those of us who know the loneliness of growing up in a place of extreme emotional restraint. Manguso is one of my favorite writers, and this book is a revelation.”—Lauren Groff, author of Florida

“A haunted masterpiece, written with the precision of a miniaturist and the vulnerability of true heartache. I wept more than once; I recognized myself more than once. Very Cold People proves yet again that Manguso is one of the greats.”—Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less

“I loved every sentence, thought, and gesture in this perfect novel. Sarah Manguso has painted a deeply moving portrait of the stark unreality of childhood.”—Catherine Lacey, author of Pew

“A poignant and unnerving masterwork about growing up in a dominator society, told with the concision, carefulness, and sense of mystery that we’ve come to expect from Sarah Manguso.”—Tao Lin, author of Leave Society

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