Alice Ash is a new writer from Brighton, UK. Alice was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Short Story Prize in 2019, and other writing has been featured or is forthcoming in Granta, Refinery29, Extra Teeth Magazine, Hotel, 3:AM, the TLS, and Mslexia, amongst others. Alice is currently writing weird stories for a residency at Open Book Unbound.
PARADISE BLOCK - Serpent's Tail - 4th Feb 2021
Longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2021
In Paradise Block, mould grows as thick as fur along the walls, alarms ring out at unexpected hours and none of the neighbours are quite what they seem. A little girl boils endless eggs in her family's burnt-out flat, an isolated old woman entices a new friend with gifts of cutlery and cufflinks, and a young bride grows frustrated with her unappreciative husband, the caretaker of creaking, dilapidated Paradise Block.
With a haunting sense of place and a keen eye for the absurd, these thirteen surreal stories lure us into a topsy-turvy world where fleatraps are more important than babies and sales calls for luxury coffins provide a welcome distraction. Lonely residents live in close proximity while longing for connection.
'Searingly brilliant ... She is a witch with words.' -- Emma Jane Unsworth
'A collection to savour - strange, funny, touching; Paradise Block is bound to be one of the debuts of the year ... it's very good' -- Eliza Clark, author of Boy Parts
'This is not a green and pleasant land, but something much more prevalent, over-looked and deeply English. These stories depict difficult, often cash-poor characters, but they are respectfully written with such texture and poetry that they give voice to the thousands of lives that they echo. Eclectic, dark, moving and sometimes very funny.' -- Kate Sawyer, author of The Stranding
'Lively, unerring, intimate and gorgeously grotesque! Sentences as satisfying as feeling the cool squish of silt between your toes. As you merrily connect the dots between crisscrossing lives, these stories will get under your skin & make themselves at home there.' -- Gemma Reeves, author of Victoria Park
'a matrix-like collection that reinvents the short story genre' - the Arts Desk
'In these brilliant stories Alice Ash taps into a deep and compelling strangeness with vigour and humour and heart. This is a disturbing and moving collection, an unusual combination I'd like to encounter more often. "I cannot look away", one of her narrators remarks; that's how I felt, too.' - Chris Power, author of Mothers
'The best weird fiction holds up a fairground mirror to what we blithely call normal, reflecting a reality that warps and flickers. In Paradise Block, Alice Ash creates a world that is disturbingly Not. Restless and unsettling, these stories take a step sideways and away from the expected. Uneasy and deliciously wrong.' Rosie Garland, author of The Palace of Curiosities
'Alice Ash's writing gets right at the rot underneath the polish of things, picking out the gothic in the full light of day. ... These are dangerous stories of the best kind: treading the line between terror and delight. I couldn't peel my eyes off them.' Livia Franchini, author of Shelf Life
'A powerful testimony to the reality of life on the margins. Raw, bizarre, disturbing, funny and uncanny.' Cathy Sweeney, author of Modern Times
'Engaging, funny and surprising in equal measure, these stories are the work of a wonderfully unconventional imagination' Laura Kaye, author of English Animals
'An unconventional collection that treads the line between the disturbing and the delightful... These stories get under your skin.' - The F Word
'Though dark, these stories are moving and funny, their stance on class and responsibility offering instances of bright clarity that turn the magnifying glass back onto the reader with a raised eyebrow ... read Paradise Block for a carnivalesque reflection of the world we live in.' - Mslexia
'The images are lurid, the lives are petty and this reader cannot get enough. A brilliant read.' - The Irish Times
“Ash may write about filth and squalor, but she does so beautifully and I for one consider her to be utterly, insanely magical. This book is a bizarre tour de force and a darkly satisfying joy!” - The Yorkshire Times