Indelicacy: A Novel

Front Cover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb 11, 2020 - Fiction - 176 pages


"Cain’s small but mighty novel reads like a ghost story and packs the punch of a feminist classic." The New York Times Book Review

A haunted feminist fable, Amina Cain’s Indelicacy is the story of a woman navigating between gender and class roles to empower herself and fulfill her dreams.

In "a strangely ageless world somewhere between Emily Dickinson and David Lynch" (Blake Butler), a cleaning woman at a museum of art nurtures aspirations to do more than simply dust the paintings around her. She dreams of having the liberty to explore them in writing, and so must find a way to win herself the time and security to use her mind. She escapes her lot by marrying a rich man, but having gained a husband, a house, high society, and a maid, she finds that her new life of privilege is no less constrained. Not only has she taken up different forms of time-consuming labor—social and erotic—but she is now, however passively, forcing other women to clean up after her. Perhaps another and more drastic solution is necessary?

Reminiscent of a lost Victorian classic in miniature, yet taking equal inspiration from such modern authors as Jean Rhys, Octavia Butler, Clarice Lispector, and Jean Genet, Amina Cain's Indelicacy is at once a ghost story without a ghost, a fable without a moral, and a down-to-earth investigation of the barriers faced by women in both life and literature. It is a novel about seeing, class, desire, anxiety, pleasure, friendship, and the battle to find one’s true calling.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - brangwinn - LibraryThing

Weird” would be the way I would describe this short book, weird and introspective. The narrator is a cleaner at a museum. Although the city is never given nor whether the book is historical or ... Read full review


User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Cain (Creature) upends fairy tale endings in her stimulating story of insidious oppression. Vitória works as a cleaner at an art museum in an unnamed large, modern city, skips meals to afford simple ... Read full review

Selected pages

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2020)

Amina Cain is the author of a novel, Indelicacy, and the short story collections Creature and I Go To Some Hollow. Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Paris Review Daily, BOMB, Granta, n+1, the Believer Logger, and other places. She lives in Los Angeles.

Bibliographic information