Babe in Paradise

Set in contemporary Los Angeles, this mature debut illuminates lives on the margins of this most duplicitous of cities.

Although all the characters in Babe in Paradise live in Los Angeles, none of them partake of the glamour and success that mark the city. Babe of the title hurtles into a dissolute relationship with a truck driver as a fire engulfs the hillside house she and her mother share. A carjacking forces the young husband and wife of “What I Saw from Where I Stood” to confront the loss of a child and the way in which this loss has reshaped their marriage. In “The Passenger,” a limousine driver finds a baby abandoned in a suitcase, a discovery which exposes her own fragility. The young couple in “Statues,” hell-bent on capturing the Hollywood dream, go horribly off course, landing in a derelict world that lays bare the emptiness of their desires. A mother and her wheelchair-bound son are robbed in “The Thief,” only to find that the thief has stolen more than their possessions. In “Two Criminals,” a man confronts his brother’s oncoming death and commits a crime that will ensure his brother’s legacy.

The unforgettable characters in Babe in Paradise dwell in the Los Angeles of seismic geological change, of racial unease, of parched desert landscapes littered with the detritus of urban ambition. Marisa Silver has a genius for making us care deeply about her characters, their everyday desperations and hard-won hopes.

Babe in Paradise

Reviews

Silver’s vision cumulatively amounts to a dark, desperate down-and-out world, a Los Angeles of her own making, where the elusive instances of human connection are all too rare, and therefore all the more luminous.

The Los Angeles Times

Magnificent…(Silver’s) writing stings, but the pain is good.

Village Voice

How well Marisa Silver writes about her n’er-do-well characters, and how cunningly she invents their lives in these glittering stories. Babe in Paradise is a passionate and memorable debut.

Margot Livesey

author of The Living World

…a writer with a keen eye for alienation, and an ability to pinpoint the surprising ways that even the most disaffected among us are brought together.

The New York Times Book Review

Energetic, inventive, and intensely dramatic, these fine stories illuminate unexpectedly dark corners of the American dream.

Andrea Barrett

National Book Award winner and author of Ship Fever

Silver’s beautiful collection of jewel-like stories illuminates people living less-than-glamorous lives in Los Angeles

Janelle Brown

The Wall Street Journal: Five Great Novels About California

When it comes to the small moments – the frustrations and regrets of daily living – Silver’s work is powerful and heartfelt, and nowhere more than in the relationships she depicts between parents and children, which she traces with savage grace.

Atlantic Monthly

A very impressive debut from a writer of striking talent.

Richard Russo

author of Empire Falls

I loved reading Babe in Paradise. Marisa Silver’s talents are wide-ranging, and her authority considerable. L.A. needed someone to reveal its complex, beautiful underpinnings. Here she is.

Antonya Nelson

author of Nobody's Girl