Tender: Stories



Tender collects dispatches from the near future, the alternate present, the fragmentary past, and the most distant stretches of the time to come. Divided into “Tender Bodies” and “Tender Landscapes,” these twenty stories explore the fragility and resilience of bodies, human environments, memory, and love.

~Read an Excerpt~

Small Beer Press
Weightless Books

“These stories are windows into an impressively deep imagination guided by sensitivity, joyful intellect, and a graceful mastery of language.” ~ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Beautiful and luminous.” ~ Rachel Léon, Chicago Review of Books

“‘Tender’ redefines the emotional power and literary heft that speculative fiction can convey.” ~ Jason Heller, NPR

Tender is full of intriguing prose experiments and self-conscious stories: stories that think about the meanings of categories like human and animal, history and culture, and do not offer the reader simple answers.” ~ Brit Mandelo, Tor.com

“A relentless, challenging, and hypnotic collection, Sofia Samatar’s Tender transports the reader to myriad worlds, periods of history, and monstrous futures yet to be born.” ~ Ilana Teitelbaum, LA Review of Books

“Infused with dreamscapes, myth, and fairy tales, Tender is fabulous in all meanings of the word.” ~ Sara Rauch, Tupelo Quarterly

“Sofia Samatar writes with a clear feminist slant and social engagement, an understanding of history and the circle of the political wheel. Her work leans into the traditions of Margaret Atwood (in The Edible Woman and The Handmaid’s Tale), Octavia Butler (in The Parable of the Sower) but with as layered, original and complex a world as anything devised by Tolkien or Lucas, and all the endless yearning of Toni Morrison and Kafka.” ~ Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas

“Equal parts brutal and beautiful, flinty, and acrobatic, Samatar’s stories explore lesser known territories of the imagination. The results chime with all the strangeness of dream and the dark-hearted truth of fairytale. I loved it.” ~ Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls

“It would be easy to get lost inside one of Sofia Samatar’s stories (mazes, maps), in part because in her writing it seems thinking and happening happen all at once: ‘I once heard a beautiful story,’ says the narrator of a beautiful story. And yet I never feel lost, for even in the lost city of Iram there are thermoses of tea and plastic bags. Reading these stories I am left deliciously tilted, the world around me stranger and more beautiful than before I opened the book.” ~ Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First

“Sofia Samatar is a wonder and this collection of stories is a dazzling display of her gifts. Inventive and wildly intelligent, thrilling and bracing, Tender is a book you need to read. Like right now.” ~ Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom

“If a library came alive, and spent ten thousand years walking up and down upon the earth, exploring and dreaming and falling in and out of love, it might write stories like these.” ~ Ben Loory, author of Tales of Flying and Falling

“The stories in Sofia Samatar’s Tender are perfect and profound works of art written with the impossible ease of someone who has unlimited access to the secret knowledge of the exact right order in which words are supposed to go. The stories ring in sympathy with the reader like the favorite stories of childhood or youth or old age: Familiar and strange in the same proportion. These stories give you several new lives to live and with each reading–because you will read all of them several times–-you discover new tales and new possibilities hidden within and you are filled endlessly with the pure pleasure of great literature.” ~ David Connerley Nahm, author of Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky

“An exquisite exploration of what otherness and belonging and place and language and love do to us all. It is visionary fiction. Please accept this as my enthusiastic recommendation to let this book have its way with you.” ~ adrienne maree brown, co-editor of Octavia’s Brood