Louise Stern

Published: 2 June 2011
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 208 pages
ISBN: 9781847081773


Louise Stern's stories are peopled with brave young girls, out to party, travel the world, go a little bit wild. The one thing that marks them out from their peers is that they have grown up deaf. They communicate with the outside world via a complicated mixture of sign language, lip-reading, note-scribbling, guesswork and instinct. Yet they are full of daring, ready for adventures that take them into unfamiliar places and strange, cock-eyed relationships with people whose actions they observe but never wholly understand.

It is this sense of dislocation from common experience that marks out Louise Stern's original voice. She is fully engaged in the world we recognize and share, but the way she observes it sets her apart. Her eyes are keen; she notices things we would never see; she is quick to judge, wary, suspicious and vulnerable. She experiences the world like a voyeur, always watching, yet able to retreat to an interior silence that nobody from the outside can ever reach.

About the author

Image of Louise Stern

Louise Stern grew up in Fremont, California, the fourth-generation deaf in her family, and now lives in London. She works for the artist Sam Taylor-Wood and is the founder and publisher of Maurice, a contemporary art magazine for children. More about the author


‘An intriguing, insightful and refreshing debut collection of short stories’



‘Chattering has many interesting things to say and says them in a provocatively different way’ Christina Koning

‘Exactly what I want of fiction - I want it to take me places I couldn't get to myself’ Tracy Chevalier

‘Intense without ever being extravagant ... In one of the best pieces, 'Window Washer', Stern shows talent in stuffing so much insight - wit, refusal, isolation, economics - into a single unassuming exchange’ Lucy Atkins

‘Louise Stern writes stories about young men and women on the edge, stories that stay in your head long after you have finished reading them ... Chattering is utterly compelling and expresses what it is like to be deaf - especially when you're also young and reckless - in a way I have never read or understood before’ Lisa O'Kelly

‘One of the many pleasures of reading Chattering is the freewheeling quality of Stern's stories. Rich in incident, they run along unpredictably, much like the young and often reckless characters who inhabit them ... [A] remarkable debut’ Devon Code

‘Provides a globe-spanning window on the deaf world, its characters signing, miming, lip-reading and note-scrawling their way through their tumultuous and often pretty wild and sexy lives in London, LA, the Bahamas and Rio de Janeiro ... Reading an accurately rendered account of a signed conversation was a bit of a revelatory trip for us, and one we would recommend to anyone’

‘Stern is as intense as Michèle Roberts, without ever being extravagant’ Lucy Atkins

‘Stern's observations are ruthlessly sharp and curiously revealing about the lives of the hearing’ Kate Saunders

‘The characters and situations stay with you, even as you know their lives are moving on elsewhere. There is very little dialogue, but lots of internal monologue and precise visual observations that convey people's presences in a way I've never read before. It's clear that being a native signer has allowed Stern to offer a perspective that is both piercingly insightful and startlingly new’ John Cradden

‘Wry, deceptively gauche, and gets better with each piece ... Stern tackles wider issues of isolation in society, while her final tale, "The Deaf School" uncompromisingly addresses the life choices - or lack of them - available to the hearing impaired’ Catherine Taylor

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