Rachel Ingalls: Gaia Banks

Rachel Ingalls

Rachel Ingalls is an American-born author who has lived in the UK since 1965. She is the author of the novels Mrs. Caliban and Binstead’s Safari as well as numerous novellas and short stories.

Author photo by Gaia Banks.

Mrs. Caliban

Fiction by Rachel Ingalls

With a contribution by Rivka Galchen

In the quiet suburbs, while Dorothy is doing chores and waiting for her husband to come home from work, not in the least anticipating romance, she hears a strange radio announcement about a monster who has just escaped from the Institute for Oceanographic Research… Reviewers have compared Rachel Ingalls’ Mrs. Caliban to King Kong, Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, the films of David Lynch, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, E.…
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Indeed, as a feminist piece with a deep romantic core, that might best explain Mrs. Caliban’s ability to emerge as an unlikely literary classic. There’s the sheer entertainment factor — steamy Aquaman sex, anyone?—but then just underneath is a real depth, a quiet brilliance in its study of behavior and circumstance. It cuts through the noise, enlightening while also resonating, soothing in its dreamy surrealism. And isn’t that the perfect recipe for an enduring classic?

—David Canfield, EW

By marrying domestic realism with the literature of the bizarre, Ingalls brings tenderness to the monstrous and renders the recognizable utterly weird. Compact yet capacious, the novel wonders at all the ways we can desire and destroy one another. It’s unabashedly campy and deadly serious; it dares the reader to admit that these aims are not at all at odds.

Literary Hub

Some writers make me laugh out loud; Rachel Ingalls makes me cackle. For her 1982 masterpiece, the short novel Mrs. Caliban, Ingalls takes a B-movie premise and pounds it into a thrilling new shape.

—Ed Park, Village Voice

Mrs. Caliban is one of my favorite novels in the world.

—Daniel Handler

Ms. Ingalls is an experienced writer of novels and stories, and her performances are immensely skillful, reminiscent of the best film thrillers.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

I loved Mrs. Caliban. So deft and austere in its prose, so drolly casual in its fantasy, but opening up into a deep female sadness that makes us stare. An impeccable parable, beautifully written from first paragraph to last.

—John Updike

A perfect novel.

—Rivka Galchen

As deranged as the whole thing is, Ingalls’s prose, strikingly austere, taps into a profound sadness, too: Is Mrs. Caliban a work of fantasy or are we inhabiting the psyche of a woman unhinged? …[B]egs to be read over and over again.

The Paris Review
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