Anna Caritj

Author of
  • Leda and the Swan
    Riverhead, pub. 2020

Anna Caritj holds a BA from the University of Virginia, where she studied Spanish and English literature, and an MFA in creative writing from Hollins University. She received the Wagenheim Fiction Prize in 2012 and was a winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ 2016 Intro Journals Project. Her short stories have appeared in Blackbird and Mid-American Review. She and her partner live in southwest Virginia with their goats, sheep, and big white dog.

Books by Anna

Leda and the Swan

“Light will someday split you open, the yoga instructor had read. It sounded ecstatic, joyous, but messy. Once you’re split, what next? Do you put yourself together, or stay broken?”

Leda is a student at one of the most august Southern universities, where education is real and serious and where “Greek Life” is also a big factor. She belongs to the famous Tri-Delt sorority, a culture which as shown here comes with laminated layers of prissiness but also accepts that its members will black out at parties and wake up the next day not knowing whom they’ve slept with, or under what circumstances. Leda is an active, if not strictly willing, participant in all that. She’s troubled by unresolved guilt over the recent death of her single mother, an event unhappily mixed up with her own first sexual experiences.

Leda has a chance at real romance with Ian, but that’s complicated by the possibility that Ian may have had something to do with the disappearance of another student, Charlotte Mask, in the aftermath of an unusually debauched Halloween party. In fact, Leda was with Ian that night, but possibly not for long enough to give him a solid alibi; in fact she thinks he might have raped her, but can’t remember enough to be sure. The mystery of Charlotte’s disappearance adds a thriller-like element to the story. Eventually Leda is carrying a pistol in a thigh holster, though without a very clear idea of what she wants to use it for.

This novel works the edge between sensuality and consensuality with unusual honesty and sophistication, tracing the history of the issue through the Yeats poem into its classical origins. It isn’t a tract, but a beautifully written, soundly achieved work of art—one which makes for a especially interesting reading at a moment when rape culture in the United States is meeting more determined opposition than ever before. For people around Leda’s age it will be illuminating. Or if you’re wondering where your children are, this book will tell you all you want to know, and more.

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