Fleur Jaeggy is often noted for her terse and telegraphic style, which brews up a haunting paradox: despite a zero-at-the-bone baseline, her fiction is intensely moving. As April Bernard commented in Newsday, how work “could be so chilly and so passionate at the same time is a puzzle, but that icy-hot quality is only one of its distinctions.” Here, in her newest collection, I Am the Brother of XX —whether the stories involve famous writers (Calvino, Ingeborg Bachmann, Joseph Brodsky) or baronesses, thirteenth-century visionaries or tormented siblings raised in elite Swiss boarding schools—Jaeggy contrives to somehow stealthily possess your mind. Her champagne gothic worlds are seething with quiet violence—and unforgettable.
Jaeggy’s astute compression of narrative detail is at once serene and startling. Beneath a placid, opalescent surface lurks a threat or violence that may or may not be realized, but which contributes to the profound impression that people and their lives are unpredictable, coursing with icy, barren wildness.
—Emily LaBarge, Los Angeles Review of Books
The fictional stories [of I Am the Brother of XX] deal with by now familiar motifs of arson, ill health, insomnia, suicide, isolation, hauntings, vendettas and murder: some are Gothic tales of the supernatural, featuring ghosts and saints and mandrakes….And death haunts: the death of Sissi, Empress of Austria, assassinated on the shores of Lake Geneva in 1898; the suicide of the Austrian poet and painter Adalbert Stifter, who cut his throat in Linz in 1868.
—Margaret Drabble, New Statesman
Jaeggy seems to have crushed a glass in her palm and tweezed out a few shards for the page. Her prose is indeed extraordinary…it is also frightening.
Stark, surprising prose. It’s hard to capture in a line or two the strange precision of Jaeggy’s prose. Darkness seems never far away.
—Martin Riker, New York Times Book Review
Swiss-Italian Jaeggy, a master of the short form, again creates something unforgettable with these otherworldly stories…an intensely beautiful and original collection that bristles with a strange and often disturbing magic.
—Claire Kohda Hazelton, The Guardian
This book is twisted and hypnotizing and, somehow, downright lovely. Reading it is not unlike diving naked and headlong into a bramble of black rosebushes, so intrigued you are by their beauty: it’s a swift, prickly undertaking, and you emerge the other end bloodied all over.
—Daniel Johnson, the Paris Review
Fleur Jaeggy’s pen is an engraver’s needle depicting roots, twigs, and branches of the tree of madness—extraordinary.