How You Were Born by Kate Cayley

How You Were Born by Kate Cayley

Literary Fiction / Short Stories
Publication Date: March 12, 2024
5.25 x 8 inches
232 pages
Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781771668705

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This tenth-anniversary edition of Kate Cayley’s award-winning collection includes three new stories.

A young mother intrudes into the life of an older woman, thinking she knows what’s best. An academic becomes convinced that he is haunted by his double. Two children spy on their supposedly criminal neighbours. A man enables his cousin’s predatory impulses out of loyalty, and a circus performer dreams of a perfect wedding. These characters fail despite their best intentions and continue on despite their failures.

The stories in How You Were Born, each more incisive and devastating than the last, examine the difficult business of love, loyalty, and memory. Sharing the bizarre and tragi-comic of life—whether in present-day Toronto or in small towns of the early 20th century—Cayley champions the importance of connections, even when missed or mislaid, and the possibility of redemption.

With a foreword by Alayna Munce and a preface by the author.

 Praise for How You Were Born

How You Were Born is a stunning collection. These stories are unsettling in the best possible way: tender and pitiless, they take the reader by the hand, by the chin, sometimes even by the throat. Look, they say, this is what it is to be human. This is how strange, how unspeakably beautiful, it can be.” —Alissa York, author of Far Cry

“Ghosts, tear gas, doppelgängers, child spies, a dragon tattoo, weddings, mothers, and acrobats—Kate Cayley probes the circus that is the human heart and proves it to be wild and eccentric, big, and sometimes aching, often bursting with wisdom. Every scene is vivid; every character flesh and blood present. Every story in How You Were Born is delicately crafted, full of drama, epiphany, and strong emotion. Cayley’s prose flashes with insight—transparent and true. Here is new life.” —Lisa Moore

How You Were Born is a riveting debut story collection that continually surprises with its effortless blend of the psychological, the domestic, and the surreal. Whether she’s exploring the lives of circus performers, over-imaginative children, or an elderly man convinced that his next-door neighbour is his doppelgänger, Kate Cayley teases out unexpected insights, connections, dark secrets, and moments of transcendence.” —Trillium Book Award Jury Citation

Press Coverage:

“Cayley shows us, in How You Were Born, that the impulse to collect and then work through anxiety imaginatively is important and powerful.” —Cleaver Magazine

“Cayley’s collection is a series of tautly written, gripping tales full of emotional intelligence, especially when it comes to children’s relationships.” —NOW Magazine

“Kate Cayley’s story collection, How You Were Born, is an ideal literary companion. Slimish, perfectly packaged, each story its own realized vision.” —Pickle Me This

“Bloody Mary,” from How You Were Born —All Lit Up

Read an Excerpt From the 10th Anniversary Edition of How You Were Born by Kate Cayley Open Book

Making the Familiar Strange: A Recommended Reading List from Kate Cayley 49th Shelf

“Cayley writes with such exactness even the mundane is lush, and the outlandish hyperreal. The collection is threaded together with a deep desire for connection, to love and to be loved. These are narratives that dig deeply into the messy business of living, where characters, despite having to confront their mistakes and accept the cruelty of the world, still find powerful beauty. Masterful.” Wendy J. Fox, Electric Literature

About the Author

Kate Cayley is the author of three poetry collections, including Lent, a young adult novel, and two short story collections. How You Were Bornwon the of the Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. She has won the O. Henry Short Story Prize, the Mitchell Prize for Faith and Poetry, and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction. She has been a finalist for the K. M. Hunter Award, the Carter V. Cooper Short Story Prize, and the Firecracker Award for Fiction, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize and the CBC Literary Prizes in both poetry and fiction. Cayley’s plays have been produced in Canada, the US and the UK, and she is a frequent collaborator with immersive company Zuppa Theatre. Cayley lives in Toronto with her wife and their three children.