Conspiracies, celebrities, and therapies underpin this beguiling short-story collection from Elizabeth Tan.
A cat-shaped oven tells a depressed woman she doesn’t have to be sorry anymore. A Yourtopia Bespoke Terraria employee becomes paranoid about the mounting coincidences in her life. Four girls gather to celebrate their fabulous underwear.
With her trademark wit and slicing social commentary, Elizabeth Tan’s short stories are as funny as they are insightful. This collection cements her role as one of Australia’s most inventive writers.
Elizabeth Tan is the author of the short-story collection Smart Ovens for Lonely People, which won the 2020 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. Her first book was the novel-in-stories Rubik. She lives in Perth, on Whadjuk Noongar land.
Elizabeth Tan’s extraordinary imagination is on full display in Smart Ovens for Lonely People – a story collection that is astonishingly clever and witty, while also full of piercing insights into contemporary society. As she plays with structure and voice, Tan also explores popular culture and modern technology to great effect, and her futuristic scenarios are well thought out and all too plausible. Food scarcity, environmental destruction, capitalist bureaucracy and misogyny are just some of the ideas explored in the collection – in tales that feature mermaids, devious cats, and mangled ‘90s ballads.
Impressively, Tan never loses sight of the characters at the heart of these stories: their desires and their fears, their relationships and – as alluded to by the title – their loneliness all bring a deep emotional resonance to this stunning collection. Smart Ovens for Lonely People is a profound delight.
‘This utterly original book will mess with your mind and make you laugh like a drain.’ Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Elizabeth Tan can twist ordinary suburban life into the weirdest shapes.’ Andrew Fuhrmann, The Monthly
‘In a collection of consistent highlights, the brilliance of some stories is particularly blinding.’ Lisa Bennett, Australian Book Review