The Masters Review, “22 Books We’re Looking Forward to This Year”
At the center of this book is the death of the narrator’s partner in a bicycling accident. Each short chapter serves as a brief vignette of, or occasionally a magical-realist metaphor for, the grieving process. A shadow of a dog appears in her apartment with no apparent source; a crack opens in the ceiling and splits her building down the middle. One day she notices in the alley below her window four women chatting together and a fifth, with no features, standing on the perimeter. She finds herself wondering: What did she want from me? What are the things that matter? At times dryly comical, at other times radiantly surreal, The Fifth Woman is a testament to the resurrecting power of memory and enduring love.
PRAISE FOR THE FIFTH WOMAN:
“The mundane becomes poetic in Nona Caspers’s novel-in-vignettes, The Fifth Woman. Its atmosphere of grief is established with tight, beautiful prose. . . . There are no wasted words. The text itself is a pleasure.”
—Foreword Review, starred review
"Caspers’ writing is spare and deceptively straightforward, lending even her realist portraits the soft edges of a dream. . . . Each vignette is short—some are only a page long—but poignant; as if Lydia Davis’ controlled remove had been sifted through the humor and immediacy of Michelle Tea. But it’s the accumulation of grief that matters here, almost as much as the details of domesticity, a quiet but tender declaration of queer love lost in San Francisco."
“The Fifth Woman is stealthily astonishing from its first line to its last. Over the course of twenty-three connected short fictions, the writer marks out a trail of mourning that is both quite straightforward and miraculously layered, strange, and emotionally multifaceted. There is not a single sentence in these stories that is not as clear as water…. It is a wonderful book.”
"Grief alters the world in ways that are both expected and less so. The Fifth Woman is a story of love, loss, and carrying on, in language that is always precise and often transporting. There is a sadness here but also acute observation and magical happenings. Nona Caspers is a true original."
—Jean L. Thompson, author of Who Do You Love and The Woman Driver
"Let me just put it there: This is one of the most beautiful, sorrowful, light-infused love stories I’ve ever read. Some stories you walk around with for good. The Fifth Woman will be one of them. Nona Caspers will change the way you see. Can a reader ask for more?"