Coup de Foudre: A Novella and Stories

A new collection of short fiction, anchored by the full text of the title novella that appeared in Harper’s, a sometimes farcical, ultimately tragic story about the president of an international lending institution accused of sexually assaulting a housekeeper in a New York hotel. Other stories range wildly in theme, setting and tone. In “The Moment They Were Waiting For,” a murderer on death row casts a spell granting the inhabitants of his city the foreknowledge of the dates they will die. In “v. The Large Hadron Collider,” a judge distracted by the faint possibility of an affair must decide whether to throw out a nuisance lawsuit that raises the even fainter possibility that the entire Earth may be destroyed. “The Un-” is a nostalgic story of a young writer’s struggles as he tries to surmount the colossal, heavily guarded wall that apparently separates writers who have been published from those who have not.


"overflows with ideas and oddities..."

— Publishers Weekly  (Publishers Weekly)

"psychologically persuasive and intensely readable"

— Fiction Fan Blog  (A master of the short story form)

"Kalfus ... showcases a dazzling versatility of style and imagination... devotees and newcomers alike will be richly rewarded by the author's impressive display here of rhetorical inventiveness and ingenious ideas."

— Booklist

"provocative explorations into contemporary culture"

— Michael Magras  (Book Reporter)

"Coup de Foudre - French for "thunderbolt" - operates on many levels, touching on poverty, race, immigration, AIDS, prostitution, and - through an unflinching discussion of genital mutilation - women's rights in Africa. "

— Joe Samuel Starnes, Philadelphia Inquirer  (Portrait of Wild Energy)

"You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style, as Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert admitted, and in his spectacular novella “Coup de Foudre,” Ken Kalfus has created an equally articulate monster."

— Andrew Sean Greer, The New York Times Book Review  (Charming Monster)

"Kalfus seems to revel in the consequences of dropping small bits of strangeness into an otherwise recognizable world—a park bench that traps its occupant until someone else comes to take their place, a curse that makes every inhabitant of a single town aware of the date on which they will die."

— Miriam M. Barnum, Harvard Crimson  (A Clever Collection)

"And so it is with the novella as whole: the reader is swept along, horrified and entertained, and horrified to be entertained. The writing is masterful, especially considering that Kalfus manages to write so well while in the persona of a vain man who is trying and mostly failing to write well."

— Carolyn Daffron, Cleaver Magazine  (Review of Coup de Foudre)

"gimlet-eyed observations, dazzling ideas and well-crafted characters whose exploits and predicaments flit between comedy, tragedy and downright absurdity"

— Malcolm Forbes, Financial Times  (The Strange and the Sordid)

"The stories are sharply original; he can be cool, hip, tragic. Kalfus sets the bar ambitiously high and one or two stories may not quite make it. Most linger in the mind, uncoiling, expanding. Witty, unsettling, sometimes weird, they sing from the page with intelligence, humour and style."

— Lee Langley, The Spectator  (Between Duty and Desire)

"Almost my ideal of what the short story collection can do."

— Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman  (Review)

"The short stories can be divided roughly into two categories. One is the earthy, realist-naturalist kind, historically tethered and psychologically bleak. It takes place in a version of our own reality -- for example, a provincial judge entertains fantasies of an affair. The other kind is more ribald and picaresque, the Borgesian- or Bolaño-inspired fantasias of mystical cities, improbable lost languages and enchanted parks benches in Paris."

— Vladislav Davidzon, Bookslut  (An Interview with Ken Kalfus)