Company: Stories (Hardcover)
October 2023 Indie Next List
“Members of a big, multigenerational Black family — with branches bohemian and bourgeois — live vibrantly in this debut collection of fiction. Linked together in a glittering chain of language, their stories create a treasured heirloom.”
— James Crossley, Madison Books, Seattle, WA
A richly detailed, brilliantly woven debut collection about the lives and lore of one Black family
Shannon Sanders’s sparkling debut brings us into the company of the Collins family and their acquaintances as they meet, bicker, compete, celebrate, worry, keep and reveal secrets, build lives and careers, and endure. Moving from Atlantic City to New York to DC, from the 1960s to the 2000s, from law students to drag performers to violinists to matriarchs, Company tells a multifaceted, multigenerational saga in thirteen stories.
Each piece in Company includes a moment when a guest arrives at someone’s home. In “The Good, Good Men,” two brothers reunite to oust a “deadbeat” boyfriend from their mother’s house. In “The Everest Society,” the brothers’ sister anxiously prepares for a home visit from a social worker before adopting a child. In “Birds of Paradise,” their aunt, newly promoted to university provost, navigates a minefield of microaggressions at her own welcome party. And in the haunting title story, the provost’s sister finds her solitary life disrupted when her late sister’s daughter comes calling.
These are stories about intimacy, societal and familial obligations, and the ways inheritances shape our fates. Buoyant, somber, sharp, and affectionate, this collection announces a remarkable new voice in fiction.
About the Author
Shannon Sanders lives and works near Washington, DC. Her fiction has appeared in One Story, Electric Literature, Joyland, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere, and was a 2020 winner of the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.
“Company is a deftly woven tapestry that scrupulously depicts familial ties and estrangement, richly told with a nuance that allows each character dignity and grace.”—Jonathan Escoffery, The New York Times Book Review
“[Company] captures Black familial relations beyond the frame. . . . Sanders extracts comedy from the formidable situations that erupt in people’s lives—divorce, financial struggle, aging, death and childlessness. Whether chosen or biological, who we consider family can shape how we cope with drama.”—Edna Bonhomme, The Washington Post
“Company is a rich and distinct collection that announces Shannon Sanders as an exciting new voice in contemporary literature.”—Rachel León, Bomb
“[A] rare feat. . . . Sanders weaves the narrative fabric of her stories with the utmost care, creating an intricate and lively look into the many beautiful moments in the lives of one Black family.”—Michael Welch, Chicago Review of Books’ “Must-Read Books of October 2023”
“Sanders excels in this masterly debut collection about a Black extended family . . . describing their slights, heartaches, and misbehavior with exquisite emotional acuity. This is a winner.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Remarkable. . . . The characters throughout are expertly rendered and deeply relatable. . . . Sanders’ stories are unforgettable, making this a strong and promising debut.”—Booklist, starred review
“Subtly crafted. . . . The difficult aspects of negotiating family relationships are gently examined but, more interestingly, respected in their recounting. The complicated circuitry behind family alliances and breakdowns is artfully revealed.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Sanders’ craft is precise, her writing absolutely gorgeous, but it’s this care and love for the flawed humans she’s created that captures our hearts as we read. . . . It’s not hyperbole to say that I laughed, cried, and was completely devastated by the end of this collection. I’d fallen so in love with this world, and with Sanders’ writing, that it was very hard to put Company down.”—Hannah Grieco, Washington City Paper
“Sanders writes with such courage and complexity. She has a masterful grasp of characters, pacing, and plotting. Company is a delectable debut.”—Debutiful's “Most Anticipated Debuts of 2023”
“Secrets are kept, traumas heal and endure. A rich, multigenerational portrait of a Black family.”—Electric Literature, “Must-Read Debut Short Story Collections of 2023”
“Shannon Sanders’s stories simply blew me away. The Collins family and the many folks in their orbit are endlessly fascinating, frustrating, and fun to meet on the page. Company is a riotous, dazzling debut that is as profound as it is entertaining.”—Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
“Assured and incisive, this collection hums with the dark comedy of striving and speaks the inconvenient necessity of affiliation as it unravels the complications of belonging. This clear-eyed debut brims human.”—Tracy O’Neill, author of Quotients
“Company introduces an unforgettable cast of characters who remind us that family can be both wound and salve. Sanders offers sharp and original insight into the intimate politics of race and class and the impossible rules we’ve inherited to navigate them. This is a brilliant and immaculate debut.”—Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections
“Company is a story collection that eats like a novel. Each story feels like a completely different vision of the same majestically sprawling family, as these neurotic high achievers struggle to balance the duties of kinship, social appearances, and honesty to their true selves. Reading Shannon Sanders makes me want to visit home.”—Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens
“If love is a many-splendored thing, family love is a little more complex: sometimes spluttery, sometimes splintering, often served up with a side of spleen. The extended clan Shannon Sanders conjures in Company is fully alive—and very funny!—recognizable but wholly new, and to read their stories is to get the gift you don’t always get from your own family: the feeling of being seen.”—Will Allison, author of Long Drive Home