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Longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection
Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, If the Body Allows It is divided into six parts and framed by the story of Marie, a woman in her thirties living in Newark, New Jersey. Suffering from a chronic autoimmune illness, she also struggles with guilt over the overdose and death of her father, whom she feels she betrayed at the end of his life. The stories within the frame—about failed marriages, places of isolation and protection, teenage mistakes, and forging a life in the aftermath—are the stories the narrator writes after she meets and falls in love with a man whose grief mirrors her own. If the Body Allows It explores illness and its aftermath, guilt and addiction, and the relationships the characters form after they’ve lost everyone else, including themselves.
Introspective, devastating, and funny, If the Body Allows It grapples with the idea that life is always on the brink of never being the same again.
About the Author
Megan Cummins is the managing editor at A Public Space and A Public Space Books. Her work has been published in Ninth Letter, One Teen Story, Guernica, and Electric Literature.
“Cummins’s innovative work delivers well-crafted stories, vivid characters, and unsettling emotional gravitas.”—Publishers Weekly
“In this collection of stories, the art of truth-telling has been combined with the magic of fortune-telling. . . . Moving and haunting, edgy and searching, reaffirming and devastating. To read it is to be dazzled, and to be changed. A serious accomplishment.”—Laura Kasischke, author of Mind of Winter
“What would Emma Bovary face in our twenty-first century—would she find her needed liberty, or trudge through a life that is only different from hers cosmetically? These questions arise when I read If the Body Allows It. Megan Cummins is a gifted storyteller, and these stories, intimately written, nevertheless peel off all layers from everyday existence to reveal the deep wounds, the tender hopes, and the dilemmas, tragic and comic, of the modern-day Emmas in the world.”—Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End
“Megan Cummins writes with great tenderness about the world today, when nothing seems stable and everyone has to find meaning where they can. . . . There is great wisdom here, and solace, and brilliance, and surprising laughs. I loved this book so much.”—Alice Elliott Dark, author of In the Gloaming