Girl, World (sample a story from the book)
By: Alex Poppe
Format: Paperback. 178 pp
Paperback: $15.95 (+$3.99 shipping and handling)
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Girl, World is a collection of stories about survival: women discovering their untapped strengths and their metamorphoses into becoming whole. Mixing lyricism, stark realism, emotional depth, and vivacious language, Alex Poppe has crafted unforgettable female characters who navigate through places where the big political picture is captured in their personal stories.
Readers of these stories travel, for example, from the confinement of the Occupied Territories to the wilds of Northern Iraq, from hipster Brooklyn to Bosnian brothels, and each story charts a heart-pounding emotional landscape. In “Kurdistan,” Shatu, a newly orphaned teenager, moves from Nashville to Kurdistan to live with her Aunt Maya, a wealthy artist. A stranger in a strange land, Shatu unlocks family secrets and witnesses a myth become reality as she takes her first steps into adulthood. “My Mother’s Daughter” follows a generation of stolen Slavic women to their breaking ground, where they are emotionally and physically shattered before they are sold to Bosnian brothels in the aftermath of the Balkan War. “Moxie” is set in Poppe’s native Brooklyn, where Jax, a top model overcome by guilt, must rebuild her life after half her face is destroyed. The characters in Girl, World bend the concept of family as they struggle with the grief, betrayal, violence, and alienation that redefine who they are. Weaving magical realism with local topography, the imagery, empathy, and testimony of these stories celebrate the fragile grandeur of everyday life.
Spanning three continents and employing a variety of writing styles and registers, this collection demonstrates Poppe’s versatility as a storyteller. Her ear for dialogue creates authentic characters that exist long after the last page is turned. Her greatest strength is her descriptive prowess: fresh, quirky, physically-grounded imagery expressed in a direct, confiding tone. This collection echoes the work of Anthony Doerr and Anthony Marra, while establishing a voice that is uniquely hers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Poppe is a teacher and creative instigator. A former actor/business consultant, she has worked in Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, Northern Iraq, the West Bank, Germany, and the United States. She currently is a Writing 4 lecturer at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. These places and their people inspire her work. When Alex is not being thrown from the back food aid trucks or dining with pistol-packing Kurdish hit men, she writes. Read an interview with Alex at https://www.travelingwithaview.com/blog/girl-world-an-interview-with-alex-poppe.
“Alex Poppe writes with a stunning honesty that pulls readers into the plight of oppressed and disrespected women. Her stories dispense with the niceties of fiction, instead daring the reader to face up to what’s really happening both in the U.S. and around the world. The work has a realism born of her personal experience as a teacher and humanitarian aid volunteer in the Middle East and Europe, which helps make these pieces some of the bravest and most challenging I’ve read in a long time.”
– Joe Ponepinto, Fiction Editor, Tahoma Literary Review
“A thought-provoking collection where the big political story never overshadows the small personal story. Mixing lyricism, stark realism, and vivacious language, Alex Poppe creates unforgettable characters who struggle with grief, betrayal, violence, and alienation. These stories celebrate the fragile beauty of everyday life.”
– Larysa Kondracki, Writer/Director, The Whistleblower
“Alex Poppe’s characters bristle with dark humor and pathos, as they navigate situations that range from disconcerting to tragic. With a rare talent for dialogue and an unerring sense of plot, Poppe draws readers irresistibly into her sharply drawn worlds, at once familiar and utterly strange.”
– Jim Hicks, The Massachusetts Review
“Girl, World had me gripped from the very first page, and many of its voices will stay with me for a very long time; all of them are deserving of a novel of their own, in fact! This fascinating, edgy, and accomplished collection often draws on the author’s own experiences in some of the most troubled parts of the world and even when she throws her characters into the most awful situations, she has a talent for finding humour, energy and, sometimes, rays of hope. Girl, World illuminates the experience of young women today in ways that are by turns surprising, funny, and devastating. Poppe is a writer to watch.”
– Zoe Strachan, author of Negative Space, winner of the Betty Trask award
“Alex Poppe, trained as an actress, gave up her career and in a courageous move few Western women would dare to make, went alone to Iraq to become a teacher, fulfilled a dream and became a writer. Her story is inspiring and her talent is clear and her writing is bold and vivid. Her work is about women and what it is like to be a woman, but only partially, for her work is much more about the vast, nervous, unsettled world from the Balkans to Kurdistan to New York. She is a writer with the eye of a journalist whose prose is bold, unique, unsparing, and vivid. Her stories can be hard to read, but the reader knows they are true and that is why they are good. She is a writer on her way and one to watch.”
– Jere Van Dyk, Journalist, CBS News, author of Captive
“Since the dawn of the Digital Revolution, facts have fallen into disrepute. They’re too contradictory, too refutable, too malleable. Histories too have fallen into disfavor, a mere thesis feeling unequal to the complex ambiguities of our times. It is the fiction writers who have been filling this vacuum, wanting to capture the essence, often the essential horror, of a time and place. . . . Unsentimental, driven by sparking kinetic language, Poppe swaps backgrounds while never losing sight of the essence of what it means to be a woman in the second decade of our new century. She is generous to the reader, there is nothing polemical here, just searing honest snapshots of courage against horrendous odds.”
– Joel Hinman, Editor-at-Large, Epiphany Magazine
“Alex Poppe creates extraordinary momentum as she guides and propels readers into the lives of her main characters. Her stories expose what is often hidden in shadows as she develops characters affected by violence, war, displacement, human trafficking and heartbreaking loss. It’s as though she’s subtly inviting us into a bargain. Care about these characters and you might help build a warmer world, a less predatory world. The stories seem to unfold effortlessly, but at a deeper level, Alex takes takes truths that everybody knows and makes them into truths no one can ignore.”
– Kathy Kelly, two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, author, peace activist, and a founding member of Voices for Creative Nonviolence