MACHINES IN THE HEAD • Anna Kavan
New York Review of Books Classics / 2019
Paperback / 192 pages

Anna Kavan is one of the great originals of twentieth-century fiction, comparable to Leonora Carrington and Jean Rhys, a writer whose stories explored the inner world of her imagination and plumbed the depths of her long addiction to heroin. This new selection of Kavan’s stories gathers the best work from across the many decades of her career, including oblique and elegiac tales of breakdown and institutionalization from Asylum Piece (1940), moving evocations of wartime from I Am Lazarus (1945), fantastic and surrealist pieces from A Bright Green Field (1958), and stories of addiction from Julia and the Bazooka (1970). Kavan’s turn to science fiction in her final novel, Ice, is reflected in her late stories, while “Starting a Career,” about a mercenary dealer of state secrets, is published here for the first time.

Kavan experimented throughout her writing career with results that are moving, funny, bizarre, poignant, often unsettling, always unique. Machines in the Head offers American readers the first full overview of the work of a fearless and dazzling literary explorer.

︎ Condition note: New