Dinner with Osama

Marilyn Krysl

Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction

Winner of the Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction for 2008

Winner of the Bronze 2008 Short Stories Book of the Year Award, ForeWord Magazine

Dinner with Osama is a book of tragicomic stories, meditations, and a novella, written in a style that’s fast, snarky, parodic, anguished, passionately engaged politically, screamingly funny, seriously erotic, vastly maternal. Think Grace Paley, updated and without the Yiddish accent. An equal opportunity satirist happy to skewer the bleeding heart lefty she herself is, her finger is on the pulse of political correctness along with political infamy. . . . I, for one, could not close the book.” — Alicia Ostriker, American Book Review

“Marilyn Krysl is one of our most gifted, quirky, and delightful storytellers—unpredictable, funny, and wildly inventive in wondrous ways. Her new collection shows her at the top of her form as she details the ordinary, the absurd, and the apocalyptic in outrageous and deeply affecting ways.” —Jay Neugeboren, author of 1940 and News from the New American Diaspora

“Marilyn Krysl’s astonishing Dinner with Osama somehow finds the intersection between deep anguish at the state of the world and brilliant, caustic, and hilarious sociopolitical satire of America post-9/11. Its effrontery is peculiarly female, its fierce intelligence that of a mother—or even (‘Are We Dwelling Deep Yet?’) a Great Mother—who needs to save and feed the world however she can. Its north and south must be ‘Mitosis,’ Krysl’s heartbreaking life history of a young Dinka woman whose way of life, and source of food, have been destroyed by civil war in Sudan; its east and west is surely the title story, in the voice of a politically irreproachable matriarch of Boulder, Colorado, who does her part by extending a dinner invitation to Osama—yes, that Osama—through her ‘pal’ Abdullah at the local gyros stand; and Osama not only receives it, he accepts. Israelis and Palestinians, ‘conflict’-addicted cliché-mongers of the creative writing workshop, violent extremists of every stripe, and above all the wealthy consumerist left are all skewered in this miraculous collection.” —Jaimy Gordon, author of Bogeywoman and She Drove Without Stopping

“We may have to invent a new term––‘the political lyric,’ perhaps––to describe the ‘airy speech and inspired story’ in Marilyn Krysl’s brilliant new collection of short fiction, Dinner with Osama. What holds all the fiction together, as much as the impassioned political and cultural concerns that inform them, is the writing, which is lyrical in the best sense, lyrical as in musical, expressive, and vivid.” —Ed Falco, author of Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha: New and Selected Stories

Marilyn Krysl has published three collections of stories, six volumes of poetry, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The New Republic, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry Prize Stories.


“A strong story collection from Krysl . . . showcasing a feminist, leftist, postmodernist, funny voice. . . . A compassionate and incendiary work.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Many of the characters in these eight short fictions from Krysl . . . maintain an awkward, ironic limbo between the desire for political correctness and stultifying class entitlements. . . . Krysl’s fiction resists the usual trajectories of plot, concentrating instead on a relentless, sometimes entertaining and illuminating investigation of personal responsibility.” — Publishers Weekly

“Krysl pulls off the seemingly impossible, getting us to empathize with characters who are simply too unhappy or idealistic to be much fun. . . . The two novellas that come at the end of the collection, ‘Mitosis’ and ‘Welcome to the Torture Center, Love’ both set in the Sudan, are stunners. . . . Africa seems to have elicited from Krysl a language that is as stark and elemental as the landscape itself. The novellas are beautiful evocations of the Sudanese tragedy, from many sides: the suffering Africans themselves, the aid workers whose efforts are rendered irrelevant by the sheer size of the catastrophe.” — Women’s Review of Books

“She weaves other cultures and issues into her stories, making them relevant to the problems of today. In this collection of short stories, Krysl builds up an event or dramatic moment, then suddenly begins a conversation with the reader. We are taunted to see how the situation resolves itself. Her stories are interesting, bold, and creative.” — Multicultural Review

“If there’s a common theme or motif to the stories, it’s that the world is a dangerous place, filled with suffering and pointless deaths. However, the world is also full of decent people who still believe in love and try to be of use. Krysl manages to combine a powerful social conscience with a good-hearted faith in people. The stories are highly original and, for the most part, compelling.” — Rocky Mountain News