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"An impressive debut."-The New York Times
"21 Best Books of 2020."-Vanity Fair
"Piercing."-The New Yorker
"Brilliant."-New York Magazine
"Exacting, sharply funny."-O., The Oprah Magazine
"Brings to life figures that might not figure on the literary radar."-Vogue
"Deceptively devastating...strange but biting stories."-Time Magazine
"Thammavongsa's spare, unsentimental writing...frames defining moments meaningfully."-The Washington Post
"Souvankham Thammavongsa's fiction debut pulls no punches."-Globe and Mail
"She's the kind of writer who conceals how technically brilliant she is. Her economy is astonishing--you feel yourself to be in the presence of someone who will not waste a second of your time, who will tell you exactly what you need to know, and who will only tell you the truth."-Kate Cayley, The New Quarterly
"To the list of writers who successfully blur the line between poetry and prose, it's time to add the name of Souvankham Thammavongsa. Born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, and raised and educated in Toronto, this forty-two-year-old poet has published four acclaimed volumes. Now a collection of fourteen stories, HOW TO PRONOUNCE KNIFE, marks her debut in fiction, and it is remarkable."-David Staines, Literary Review of Canada
"Thammavongsa isn't just a gifted writer exploring the dynamics of families adjusting to new lives, she's also an immensely talented writer. Her gift for poetry translates perfectly into fiction; her prose is spare but vivid, with no wasted words, and she has an unusual gift for descriptions that stick with the reader."-Michael Schaub, Vice-President of the National Book Critics Circle/Online in the Minnesota Star Tribune.
"This book is a welcome reminder that, given the right attention, even the smallest of spaces can feel expansive."-The Paris Review
"Helloooo I should've gone to sleep earlier but then I started reading How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa and literally couldn't stop reading it and now I'm in love with this book ok now I'll go to sleep for real byeee."-@strongasyouwere, Twitter
"They are hard-edged and precise, often glinting with humour....Most of the characters in her 14 stories are immigrants or refugees from Laos. It would be careless, however, to bluntly reduce this to autobiography. The stories actively resist this in their placelessness, their pared-down detachment and their hanging endings, left open to unspoken futures. They are careful about the language they are written in. There is just as much in what they do not say as in what they do say."-The Straits Times (Singapore)
Jael Richardson recommends HOW TO PRONOUNCE KNIFE on q (click to listen)
"These stories are so elegant and so cutting. Contents include: nose jobs, worm picking, lustful old ladies and a litre of heartbreak."-Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Twitter
"A welcome strike to narratives that are often demanded of refugee writers--narratives laden with nobility, the commodification of trauma....Instead of being foreigners in a new land, these characters make foreigners out of those who would pity them."-Ploughshares
"Thammavongsa's radiant debut collection of short stories is full of precarity, strength, uncertainty, messiness and life."-MS. Magazine
"Tinged with melancholy, anger, and a healthy dose of dark humor, all of these stories exhibit a fierce pride in what one can accomplish."-Salon
"Canadian poet Souvankham Thammavongsa proves expert at creating that uncertain sense of an ending. Very little is resolved or tied up neatly in these 14 stories. They are designed to stop you in your tracks. And they do so, creeping up on you, sentence by deceptively simple sentence, with all the stealth of tigers stalking in the tall grass."-inews (UK)
"Doughty yet mischievous."-Maclean's
" at ease in the dark. With authority, her fiction asks: How do we survive? What does it mean to endure."-BOMB Magazine
"One of the buzziest new voices on the literary circuit."-Toronto Life
"Every once in a while, you come across a book with writing so breathtaking that you take note of the author so you can read everything they ever write in the future. How to Pronounce Knife, by Souvankham Thammavongsa, is one of those books."-Elle Canada
"One of the most striking voices to emerge in Canadian poetry in a generation."-The Walrus
Globe & Mail
Anne Michaels in idea&s

University of Toronto Quarterly
A reader

Toronto Star
New Quarterly