REVIEW: Craft by Ananda Lima

Last Updated on June 28, 2024

Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil is Ananda Lima’s fiction debut. Craft is billed as a collection of short fiction, though I would argue it is more of a fragmentary novel. The collection’s hook is an unnamed author who has slept with the devil, their future interactions and how this impacted her. The named stories are interspersed with notes from the fictional author’s life, giving a sense of why these stories are as they are. Lima has previously published poetry, including the collection Mother/land and her background in poetry permeates her fiction, just as much as her Brazilian upbringing and life as an emigrant does.

Craft is certainly very far down the literary end of genre fiction. If that’s not your cup of tea, this isn’t the book for you. It is weird, experimental and unique, and ultimately, I came down on the side of really liking Craft. Early on, I did consider not finishing it as I was struggling to get invested, but for me it was well worth persevering with this special book – and just letting it do its thing rather than dwell on my expectations. The publisher compares this to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, but I would add one big caveat to that: as written by James Joyce. To me, that’s the literary heritage of Craft, a book that gives the reader a lot of food for thought, that changes vastly between chapters and unashamedly experiments with voice and perspective.

I particularly enjoyed two of the stories, “Antropógaga” and “Idle Hands”, stories that epitomize the range of writing in Craft. The first, “Antropógaga” is an absurdist tale, reminiscent of early Russian fantasists, in which a woman gets addicted to a vending machine at work. Sounds fine, except what she eats are tiny humans, packaged in plastic. The story touches on the impact of perception and mass consumerism. dehumanizing to discuss humanity. “Idle Hands” on the other hand is one of the more experimental tales in Craft. This story consists of a series of peer-reviews of one of the fictional author’s stories in the context of a writing workshop. The reader doesn’t ever see the original story but learns much about the peers who write the notes. To me, these two stories really show off how Lima plays with structure and expectation, how she crafts a setting that comes alive. The stories themselves are connected through notes about the fictional author told in third person – like Lima, she is Brazilian, but has been in the US for years. With these interludes, Lima manages to interweave the stories with reflections on emigrant life, the demands of family and complications following your own destiny brings.

I found Craft to be weird and wonderful, a book that demands trust from the reader and rewards that trust. Lima is an author to watch, I’m very curious to read what she writes next.

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Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne can usually be found with her nose in a book or two. Most of her life revolves around words, be that reading, writing, or editing. You can find more of her ramblings over on www.libridraconis.com, where she also reviews YA books and more lighthearted Fantasy and Science Fiction, as @FLSchwizer on Twitter, and @libri_draconis on Instagram. If you're curious about what she is currently reading, check out www.goodreads.com/libridraconis.

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