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The Doll’s Alphabet

The Doll’s Alphabet
Stories by Camilla Grudova

Surreal, ambitious, and exquisitely conceived, these are stories in the tradition of Angela Carter, Franz Kafka, and Margaret Atwood. 

October 2017

5.5 x 8.25 | 192 Pages
Trade Paper

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at

Please visit Coach House Books to purchase for shipping to Canada. Not available from Coffee House Press.

ISBN: 978-1-56689-490-6.



Dolls, sewing machines, tinned foods, mirrors, malfunctioning bodies—by constantly reinventing ways to engage with her obsessions and motifs, Camilla Grudova has built a universe that’s highly imaginative, incredibly original, and absolutely discomfiting. The stories in The Doll’s Alphabet are by turns childlike and naive, grotesque and very dark: the marriage of Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter.



“If fairytales could dream, this nightmarish collection is what you might end up with. . . . Grudova very efficiently spins us into her weird web.” —Times Literary Supplement 

“A canny collage artist with an eye for the comically macabre, Grudova scavenges her images from Victorian and Edwardian aesthetics. Against this background, her ironies and insights about the inequalities in relationships between men and women feel startlingly current.” —Publishers Weekly

“That I cannot say what all these stories are about is a testament to their worth. They have been haunting me for days now. They have their own, highly distinct flavour, and the inevitability of uncomfortable dreams.” —The Guardian

“Grudova’s method of storytelling is highly imaginative and incredibly ambitious.” 

“The effect of the absurd, unnatural, cruel, and unfair social rules in these stories is to cast light on how absurd, unnatural, cruel, and unfair the rules of contemporary society can be.” —Kirkus

“Grudova’s style is an exotic cocktail: three parts magic realism, two parts dystopian, and a splash of extreme feminism. However, there is a playful intelligence driving these weird stories and a real talent that can’t be dismissed — even when she seems most eccentric.” —Daily Mail

“Grudova does mermaids and magic, but she also does moldy, dingy, scratch-and-sniff interiors that reek of cabbage and old shoes… Grudova’s descriptions are crooked and revelatory.”  —Harper’s Magazine

“[The Doll’s Alphabet] is a meticulously crafted modern gothic, thoughtful in its explorations of femininity and what can survive in darkness.” —The Riveter

 “…fans of authors Alexandra Kleeman and Ameila Gray or the films of David Lynch and David Cronenberg will be delighted. Grudova is undeniably talented and someone to watch.” —Library Journal

“The stories included in [Grudova’s] debut collection [The] Doll’s Alphabet are at once macabre and wondrous. . . . Grudova’s imagination is among the most potent to emerge in literature in recent memory.” —Entropy

“Beginning with a tale of ‘unstitching,’ the ambitious short stories in The Doll’s Alphabet play out like dreams in which recurring obsessions stitch themselves into the narrative at a bizarre and unsettling cost. . . . Just when we feel we have escaped the familiar for the fantastical, an event or a detail pulls us back. The resulting picture is one of a society determined by structures as opaque and incredulous as our own.” TANK

“Grudova’s prose is both elegant and nonchalant, offering horrific imagery as if nothing were untoward, and a feminist subtext colours almost every story.” —Buzz Mag

“The Doll’s Alphabet, Camilla Grudova’s debut short story collection, splits open a dollhouse of domestic life and allows us to examine the magical dystopian interior… Grudova’s images also offer strange glimpses into human interiority, giving shape to unknown emotions.” —Arkansas International

“…Grudova’s beguiling collection of short stories – filled with mermaids and werewolves – announces the arrival of a major new voice in Canadian fiction.” The Globe and Mail

“At once illuminating and completely unsettling, The Doll’s Alphabet is an incredible collection featuring stories that almost feel as if they exist in a shared world in the not-too-distant future. These are stories about obsessions and perceptions, imbalances of privilege, the absorbing and painful nature of motherhood, and spooky mundanities like tinned meats, costumes, and sewing machines. Full of memorable moments; fascinating, vivid details; and grotesque facts of the body, The Doll’s Alphabet is an intelligent exploration of identity, femininity, and attraction.” —Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books

The Doll’s Alphabet is a haunting short story collection that is impossible to put down or forget. I read it all in one day because I was just so transfixed and couldn’t begin to imagine where the stories were going. Grudova writes wonderfully strange stories that have a semblance of normal domesticity until something surreal, and sometimes grotesque, happens. With themes of sewing, stitching, transformation, and womanhood and reminders of the work of Atwood or Kafka, this is a timely collection for those brave enough to try it.” —Katrina Bright, Books & Company

“Beautifully embroidered with exquisite and vulgar details, this collection reminded me of nothing more than traveling through a Hannah Hoch photomontage.” —Unabridged Bookstore Newsletter, Staff Picks

“I adored this grotesque jewel box of a book! Most of these menacing stories take place in a dystopian world similar enough to our own to leave you disquieted. Grudova weaves recurring motifs (among them, sewing machines, golden syrup, doll parts, vermin, and things packed in tin) and themes (principally the systematic subjugation of women and the desire to mechanize portions of one’s body) throughout these stories, constructing a universe that appears to be the result of commonplace assumptions taken to their furthest logical conclusions. Beautifully embroidered with exquisite and vulgar details, this collection reminded me of nothing less than traveling through a Hannah Höch photomontage.” –Katharine Solheim, Unabridged Bookstore

“If your aesthetic includes dusty shops, wandering mermaids, sewing machines, stark living conditions with food in tins, and feminism, The Doll’s Alphabet is the book for you. It deserves to be on the shelf next to your beloved copies of Angela Carter and Shirley Jackson.” —Anton Bogomazov, Politics and Prose

“This doll’s eye view is a total delight and surveys a world awash with shadowy wit and exquisite collisions of beauty and the grotesque.” —Helen Oyeyemi, author of Boy, Snow, Bird

“Down to its most particular details, The Doll’s Alphabet creates an individual world—a landscape I have never encountered before, which now feels like it was waiting to be captured, and waiting to captivate, all along.” —Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?

“Marvellous. Grudova understands that the best writing has to pull off the hardest aesthetic trick—it has to be both memorable and fleeting.” —Deborah Levy, author of Hot Milk