View Gallery

Available in

Refund

Stories

List Price: $25.00

January 13, 2015 | Hardcover | 6 x 9, 256 Pages | ISBN 9781619024557
Order Now From Indiebound

Finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Fiction

Finalist for the 2015 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award

We think about it every day, sometimes every hour: Money. Who has it. Who doesn’t. How you get it. How you don’t.

Bender uses this very powerful force to pull together a unified collection of stories that deeply explore the ways in which money and the subsequent estimation of value affect the lives of her characters. The stories in Refund reflect our contemporary world—swindlers, reality show creators, desperate artists, siblings, parents—who struggle to figure out how to obtain money, how to give it, earn it, lose it, all the while trying to answer the question: What is the real definition of worth?

In “Theft,” an eighty-year-old swindler, accustomed to tricking people for their money, discovers she has Alzheimer’s and boards a cruise ship to see if she can find something of true value—a human connection. In “Anything for Money,” the creator of a popular reality show is thrown into the real world when his estranged granddaughter reenters his life in need of a new heart; in “The Sea Turtle Hospital,” a young teacher and her charge survive another school lockdown to seek out comfort in stranded sea animals, as they learn to cherish themselves and all living things; and in the provocative title story, young artist parents in downtown Manhattan escape the attack on 9/11 only to face a battle over their subleased apartment with a stranger who might have lost more than only her deposit.

Set in New York City, the American South, and Los Angeles, these stories explore what we can afford and what we cannot and herald a work of singular literary merit by an important writer at the height of her power.

KAREN E. BENDER is the author of the novels Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, Story, Harvard Review, The Iowa Review, and other magazines. Her stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, and have won two Pushcart prizes. She has won grants from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and the NEA. She is also co-editor of the anthology Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion. She has taught creative writing at Antioch University Los Angeles, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Tunghai University in Taiwan. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, novelist Robert Anthony Siegel, and their two children.

Praise

“In an American moment where money rules and anxieties fester, Karen Bender has stepped in to tell all our stories with unsettling honesty, an eye for our absurdities, and an openness to the moments of grace that keep us going. Bender is a master storyteller and Refund is a superb collection.” —Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me

“Each day Bender’s case of ordinary people struggle to make sense of their debts, their fears, and how to be satisfied with what they’ve got, in short stories that are both lean and expansive.” —O, the Oprah Magazine

“A fictional bonanza for penny-pinching times.” —More

“There are some astonishing characters in this collection…the stories’ strengths stem from Bender’s beautiful writing and her ability to convey the wonder and dread of ordinary life, the things we might notice—whether with terror or with joy—if we weren’t too busy worrying about paying the bills.” —Publishers Weekly

“…a masterful new collection…” —Atlanta-Journal Constitution

“Every once in a while a book steps onto the stage and convinces readers all over again that literature is the great companion and interpreter of life. This is one of those books. In these eleven absolutely masterful stories by Karen E. Bender, the reader gets the most intimate education in politics, language, love, family. The book cares about every single idea it comes across— in a way it is political to the core. On the other hand, the writing is affectionate and attentive to the way life feels, to the way a phrase can grasp a moment so entirely. This is the book of the season, and the book everyone should read who wants to understand the depth and capability of the short story.” —Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories, finalist for the Story Prize and winner of the Believer Book Award, and The City is a Rising Tide

“These stories are among the best fiction I’ve read in a generation. From the chains of straw and coins and angels that bind us to earth, Bender weaves not only gold, but the rings of Saturn.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Second Nature

“In Refund, Karen Bender offers us a vision of contemporary life that is tragic and deeply funny, disturbing and–most of all–true. These are stories about us, women and men living with the trappings of comfort and security, while anxiety thrums under the surface and a sense of calamity looms. This collection moved and enthralled me throughout.” —Danny Senna, author of Caucasia and You are Free

“Money, money! The things we’ll do to get it, the distortions (especially when children are involved) of the space between desire and satisfaction: these are Karen Bender’s subjects, which she handles with savage wit, great economy, and a brilliant instinct for the telling situation. Her stories floored me.” —Andrea Barrett, author of Archangel and Servants of the Map

Related Products