2018 LAMBDA Literary Award Finalist
2018 Foreword Indies Book of the Year SILVER Winner in Literary Fiction and Finalist in LGBT Fiction
2018 IPPY Awards for LGBT + Fiction Bronze Medalist
The Masters Review, “22 Books We’re Looking Forward to This Year”
"Caspers’ writing is spare and deceptively straightforward, lending even her realist portraits the soft edges of a dream. . . . Each vignette is shortsome are only a page longbut poignant; as if Lydia Davis’ controlled remove had been sifted through the humor and immediacy of Michelle Tea. But it’s the accumulation of grief that matters here, almost as much as the details of domesticity, a quiet but tender declaration of queer love lost in San Francisco."
"This gem of a collection is a transcendent portrayal of bereavement, showing how death elevates the mundane and affects everything humans do, see, and think."
". . mesmerizing, moving. . ."
Brandon Yu, The San Francisco Chronicle
"I learned much about craft and tone from reading The Fifth Woman. I found myself constantly plunging into and then climbing out of dark holes. I reveled in rooting into the dark, icy ground, digging my nails into the rocky dirt. And I exulted when I finally surfaced, gulping air and blinking into the clear, bright light. Caspers's brilliance rests in her light yet firm touch: a use of language that is simultaneously tempered yet lush."
"The Whispers I Could Almost Hear," Nancy Au, The Cincinnati Review
"In twenty three connected exquisite moments (or stories) the novel constructs a map of loss, its creative potential, its capacity to tear open the world, trouble boundaries, and dust the daily with wonder. In The Fifth Woman , grief is queer-as-in-odd, as in boundary-blurring, as in otherways loving, as in curious. . . . You need a book, like this one, that reminds you of what your own lost love once told you, that everything can be written about, and because it explores so clearly the stage, the smoke, and the mirrors of this two-bit magic trick of existence: a person is here and then they are gone."
Carson Beker, LAMBDA Literary
“The mundane becomes poetic in Nona Caspers’s novel-in-vignettes, The Fifth Woman. Its atmosphere of grief is established with tight, beautiful prose. . . . There are no wasted words. The text itself is a pleasure.”
Foreword Review , Starred Review
“Precise and glowing prose.”
May-Lee Chai, The Millions
"[I]ncredible. . . The Fifth Woman is an ecosystem of grief; a circular cloud of emotion, memory, and experience that bends towards the surreal, exploring, or so it seems, every nook and cranny of the aftermath of the death of a loved one."
Noah Sanders, Empty Mirror
"The writing style is lyrical and the story moves through different elementsants, the girlfriend, the apartment, water, the neighborsto create a circular, dreamlike remembrance."
Lisa Martin, The Guardsman
“ The Fifth Woman is stealthily astonishing from its first line to its last. Over the course of twenty-three connected short fictions, the writer marks out a trail of mourning that is both quite straightforward and miraculously layered, strange, and emotionally multifaceted. There is not a single sentence in these stories that is not as clear as water…. It is a wonderful book.”
"Grief alters the world in ways that are both expected and less so. The Fifth Woman is a story of love, loss, and carrying on, in language that is always precise and often transporting. There is a sadness here but also acute observation and magical happenings. Nona Caspers is a true original."
Jean L. Thompson, author of Who Do You Love and The Woman Driver
"Let me just put it there: This is one of the most beautiful, sorrowful, light-infused love stories I’ve ever read. Some stories you walk around with for good. The Fifth Woman will be one of them. Nona Caspers will change the way you see. Can a reader ask for more?"
This novel in stories tracks grief through all its painful stages, from the surreal collapse of memory to the bittersweet tug of letting go.When Michelle dies in a bicycle accident, the unnamed female narrator is left to sift through memories of their love story, good and bad. "She was a confident chewer," she recalls in the opening vignette, "Ants." The narrator has difficulty tracking which details about her lover are important, which might drift away over time, and which might, inexplicably, stick around. Faced with such a loss, which details should one even bother to hold onto? "Some things I can't remember," she thinks. "I can't remember if we had plants in that apartment, if Michelle liked houseplants." In "The Horse," the narrator battles grief through her fixation on a tragedy by a writer she admires, eventually creating a new ending in the pages of her thesis. In "Reception," she chronicles the mundane ins and outs of her receptionist job, including the breakdown of her reserved but dependable boss. And in "The Ocean," she imagines the afterlives of two old friends, whose ghosts needle her into taking a day trip to the beach. "Oh, please," says one ghost, after the narrator tries to learn more about life on the other side. "Life has made you so boring." Caspers' writing is spare and deceptively straightforward, lending even her realist portraits the soft edges of a dream. Each vignette is short—some are only a page long—but poignant; as if Lydia Davis' controlled remove had been sifted through the humor and immediacy of Michelle Tea. But it's the accumulation of grief that matters here, almost as much as the details of domesticity, a quiet but tender declaration of queer love lost in San Francisco. "What did she want from me?" the narrator wonders in the days after the accident. "What are the things that matter?" Some years later, she gets her answer, newly in love with an ambitious programmer named Larissa. "I am so afraid and so awake," she thinks. Which is, of course, the risk of living and loving well.A promising debut.