Things to come and go


The three novellas collected together in Things to Come and Go showcase Bette Howland at her best. Written just before she won the MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 1984, these intimate portraits of Jewish family life are by turns equally truthful and bittersweet.

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SKU: 9781529035926 Category: Tags: , Publisher/imprint : Picador
Page count : 160
Published on 27th July, 2023


‘Reminiscent of Edna O’Brien, with shades too of Jean Rhys.’ – The Irish Times

Things to Come and Go showcases the incomparable talent of Bette Howland in three novellas of stunning power, beauty, and sustaining humour.

‘Birds of a Feather’ is a daughter’s story of her extended, first-generation family, the ‘big, brassy yak-yakking Abarbanels’. Esti, a merciless, astute observer, recalls growing up amid (the confusions and difficulties of) their history, quarrels, judgements, noisy love and inescapable bonds of blood.

In ‘The Old Wheeze’ a single mother in her twenties returns to her sunless apartment after a date at the ballet. Shifting between four viewpoints – the young woman, the older professor who took her out, her son, and her son’s babysitter – the story masterfully captures the impossibility of liberating ourselves from the self.

In ‘The Life You Gave Me’, a woman at the midpoint of life is called to her father’s sickbed. A lament for all that is forever unsaid and unsayable, the story is ‘an anguished meditation on growing up, growing old and being left behind, a complaint against time.’ (The New York Times)

First published in 1984, Things to Come and Go, Bette Howland’s final book, is a collection of haunting urgency about arrivals and departures, and the private, insoluble dramas in the lives of three women.

With an introduction by Rumaan Alam, bestselling author of Leave the World Behind.

Additional information

Dimensions 19.7 × 13 cm