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Bliss Montage


Ling Ma

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Bliss Montage Download image

ISBN10: 0374293511
ISBN13: 9780374293512


240 Pages



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What happens when fantasy tears the screen of the everyday to wake us up? Could that waking be our end?

In Bliss Montage, Ling Ma brings us eight wildly different tales of people making their way through the madness and reality of our collective delusions: love and loneliness, connection and possession, friendship, motherhood, the idea of home. A woman lives in a house with all her ex-boyfriends. A toxic friendship grows up around a drug that makes you invisible. An ancient ritual might heal you of anything—if you bury yourself alive.

These and other scenarios investigate the ways that the outlandish and the ordinary are shockingly, deceptively, heartbreakingly alike.


Praise for Bliss Montage

“[Ma] has a knack for out-there premises . . . and is just as talented at connecting them to realistic identity crises.”—Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times

“Swift, smart short stories . . . As always, Ling Ma’s big, weird ideas set the stage for keen emotional insights.”—Patrick Rapa, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Captivating . . . Ma harnesses the pulsating desire and power dynamics present in all relationships, from intimate friendships and haunting romantic entanglements to motherhood and the invisible yet omnipresent ties of ancestors.”—Cady Lang and Angela Haupt, Time

“Weird and wonderful, surreal and subversive, these stories prove that Ma is well on her way to a landmark career.”—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

“Stories that are as outlandish as they are delectable.”—Sophia June, Nylon

“This delightfully strange dip back into Ma’s brain is as wonderful as you expect. It touches on what amounts to the greatest hits of human existence: friendship, love, the meaning of home and why we need each other. Read it. Just read it.”—Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping

“[Bliss Montage] travels through a series of magically realistic, gently dystopian environments . . . A composite portrait of alienation in fading worlds.”—Erin Schwartz, Vulture

“Short stories that examine collective delusion. Ruminating on love, friendship, optimism, and desperation, the stories in Bliss Montage expose the unsightly truths of their characters’ lives.”—K.W. Colyard, Bustle

“Haunting . . . A surreal collection.”—Emerson Malone, Buzzfeed

“A collection of short stories that subvert our deepest illusions about one’s self . . . Unpredictable and sharp, Ma’s writing is unlike any other.”—Sabienne Bowman, Pop Sugar

“Brilliant.”—Adam Morgan, Polygon

“Ma blends magical realism and intimate humanism in . . . entertaining stories that smash our sense of reality . . . Bliss Montage reveals the absurdity behind everyday heartbreak.”The Chicago Review of Books

“[A] rich and capacious collection, a montage which begs to be viewed over and over again.”—William Shaw, Strange Horizons

“Strange, wonderful, and uniquely poignant. Ma’s stark and pointed prose shines here, and each story deserves multiple readings, sure to supply newly discovered emotions each time.”—Christina Orlando,

“Dreamy stories, each with a foot in the fantastic and the other foot firmly in the appalling everyday.”—Emily Temple, Literary Hub

“Deliciously bizarre . . . [Bliss Montage] will feel familiar to anyone who has wanted to scream at the mundanity of everyday life.”—Susie Dumond, Book Riot

“A lyrical, potent [book] that blends fantasy and reality to dazzling effect . . . Ma seamlessly blends the real and the unreal with astonishing confidence and care . . . Another triumph for Ma.”—Matthew Jackson, BookPage (starred review)

“Ling Ma is a master at subverting expectations. Bliss Montage presents a strange and compelling intersection between stark realism and absurd fantasy. It all adds up to a uniquely satisfying reading experience.”—Nick Drnaso, author of Sabrina

“In this riveting collection of stories, by which one is alternately startled, horrified, and delighted, Ling Ma stands out once again as one of the most original writers of her generation.”—Sianne Ngai, author of Ugly Feelings

“[Bliss Montage] uses elements of the fantastic but grounds them in a reality that is more recognizably our own . . . The ideas of home and belonging recur throughout the collection . . . Ma also writes about motherhood and academic life and abusive relationships. These are rich themes, and [she] explores them with the logic of dreams . . . Haunting and artful.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Surreal and jarring in the most sensational way . . . A fantastical collection that grows more and more captivating with each page.”—Allison Cho, Booklist

“[A] fantastical and often brilliant collection . . . Enchanting, full of intelligence, dry humor, and an appealing self-awareness.”Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

Los Angeles

The house in which we live has three wings. The west wing is where the Husband and I live. The east wing is where the children and their attending au pairs live. And lastly, the largest but ugliest wing, extending behind the house...

About the author

Ling Ma

Ling Ma is a writer hailing from Fujian, Utah, and Kansas. She is the author of the novel Severance, which received the Kirkus Prize, a Whiting Award, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. She lives in Chicago with her family.

Anjali Pinto

Ling Ma