I love the way Bender leads you calmly down a well-worn path with a flashlight, shines a light the small, simple everyday then grabs your wrist while she takes you for a unexpected twist. Her stunning and subtle prose makes you curious; every story somehow slowly and thoughtfully blooms before you as though you have uncovered a gem as it first catches the light.
— From Shannon's Picks
"A collection that reflects America's new reality." --The New York Times Book Review, New & Noteworthy
The National Book Award finalist for Refund
returns with a new collection of stories that boldly examines the changes in American culture over the last two years through the increasing presence of violence, bigotry, sexual harassment, and the emotional costs of living under constant threat.
In the title story, the competition between two middle school cellists is affected by a shooting at their school, and it is only years later that they realize how the intrusion of violence affected the course of their lives. In "This Is Who You Are," a young girl walks the line between Hebrew school and her regular school, realizing that both are filled with unexpected moments of insight and violence. In "Three Interviews," an aging reporter must contend with her dwindling sense of self and resources, beleaguered by unemployment, which sets her on a path to three increasingly unhinged job interviews. In "Mrs. America," a candidate for local office must confront a host of forces that threaten to undermine her campaign and expose her own role in the dissonance between what America is and what it should be. The New Order
shows a singular writer dealing with contemporary themes and ideas, shining a spotlight on the dark corners of our nature, our instincts, and our country. "The unfussy yet supremely crafted short fictions in the author's second collection delight in upending expectations, playing fast and loose with the rules of tone, time, and point of view to constantly keep us guessing." --O, The Oprah Magazine