Before and Afterlives

Shirley Jackson Award 2013.

Discover the haunting stories of Crawford Award-winning author Christopher Barzak in his new collection Before and Afterlives. These are tales of relationships with unearthly domesticity and eeriness: a woman falls in love with a haunted house; a beached mermaid is substituted for a disappeared daughter; the imaginary friend of a murdered young woman stalks the streets of her small town; a mother’s teenage son is afflicted with a disease that causes him to vanish; a father exploits his daughter’s talent for calling ghosts to her; and a wife leaves her husband and children to fulfill her obligations in the world from which she escaped.

“How to conjure souls? Resurrect the past? Speak to the dead? Christopher Barzak has a talent for ghosts. In a world composed of more than its material aspects, Barzak seems to know that the things unsaid are what haunt us most. He offers his considerable gift of story as a talisman. Before and Afterlives is a generous contribution to the art of being human.” - M. Rickert

“Barzak’s sympathy and humor, his awareness, his easeful vernacular storytelling, are extraordinary.” - Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn

“An honest and uncanny ride through the shadows between grief and acceptance. This is how real magic works.” - Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies

“Although Christopher Barzak is now better known as a novelist, I've always been an admirer of his short stories. His new collection, Before and Afterlives, will make you one too. This generous offering of his best work displays impressive range, depth of feeling, a sharp sense of humor, and a fantastic imagination both lyrical and dark.” - Jeffrey Ford, author of Crackpot Palace


  • “What We Know About the Lost Families of – House”
  • “The Drowned Mermaid”
  • “Dead Boy Found”
  • “A Mad Tea Party”
  • “Born on the Edge of an Adjective”
  • “The Other Angelas”
  • “A Resurrection Artist”
  • “The Boy Who Was Born Wrapped in Barbed Wire”
  • “Map of Seventeen”
  • “Dead Letters”
  • “Plenty”
  • “The Ghost Hunter’s Beautiful Daughter”
  • “Caryatids”
  • “A Beginner’s Guide to Survival Before, During, and After the Apocalypse”
  • “Smoke City”
  • “Vanishing Point”
  • “The Language of Moths”
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Release date: March 18, 2013
Genres: fantasy, horror, short stories
Average rating: 10.00/10
Total ratings: 1
Updated 2014-09-16