Indelicacy | Amina Cain



Published September 2020
ISBN: 9781911547587
Format: Paperback

Also available as an eBook:


An elegant, haunting debut from an exciting new voice that reads like a modern classic

In an undefined era and place, a cleaning woman at a museum of art aspires 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 the way to win herself the security and time 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 labour — 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?

Indelicacy is an exquisite gem of a novel about class, desire, friendship, art, and the battle to find one’s true calling.

‘Unfolds like a mesmerising dream.’ Celia Paul

‘Her bone-clean prose creates a sense of immersion in a story that feels both mythic and true… A woman’s search for creativity is not a new subject, yet Cain has made it so.’ – Guardian

‘Beguiling… casts aside conventions, explanations, detail. Our narrator is focused on the unshakeable drive to achieve self-determination and independence… there are remarkable things in this book.’ – Financial Times

‘A thing of real delicacy, with a fine, distilled quality to the writing, every word precisely chosen, precisely placed.’ – Observer

‘An extraordinary feminist fable about women and art.’– Irish Times

‘Narrated with gnomic mystery as well as lethally disarming candour, it’s a slim novel with the heft of a much larger one.’ – Daily Mail

‘A slip of a novel, Indelicacy can easily be read in one sitting… Cain’s writing also feels brilliantly, eerily contemporary.’ – Vogue

‘Cain’s writing feels more urgent than a lament on the gendered history of art writing… A Cinderella story, only with more bite.’ – Elephant Magazine

‘Despite its slimness and simple, measured prose, Indelicacy has a lot going on… explores vision, imagination and creativity in a continuous process of self-creation.’ — Herald

Indelicacy is a short book but it feels brilliantly expansive to read. Cain writes beautiful precise sentences about what it means to wander through this luminous world.’ – Jenny Offill, author of Weather

‘I read it slowly, in a kind of reverie, wanting to savour every page. It is so exquisite and precise that I felt I wanted to read it constantly, to live inside it… A completely absorbing, luminous account of a woman inhabiting her life and creativity.’ – Megan Hunter, author of The Harpy

‘Amina Cain is a phenomenal writer. I adore her work, and sensibility. Indelicacy isn’t merely a book, it’s a world; a world I wanted to live in, forever… Arch, yet warm; aspiring and impervious; confiding and enigmatic; reposing and intrepid; Cain has conjured a protagonist who purged my mind and filled my heart.’ – Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond

‘A novel that will get people talking… A Room of One’s Own with a few wicked twists.’ – New York Times

‘This sparse, elliptical novel finds new complexities in the familiar conflict between creative independence and the lures of traditional domesticity.’ – The New Yorker

‘Cain writes with elegance on art and friendship, creating a fictional world that feels more like a painting than a book. I inhaled this strange and shimmering novel in a single sitting.’ – AnOtherMagazine, Best Books of 2020

‘Through this timeless examination of solitude, art, and friendship Amina Cain announces herself as one of the most intriguing contemporary writers of our time.’ – Patrick Cottrell, LitHub Most Anticipated Books of 2020

‘Amina Cain redefines strangeness and freedom in this beautiful and unusual novel that resembles fairy tales and ghost stories but feels intensely contemporary.’ – Alejandro Zambra, author of Multiple Choice

‘Reading this novel is a bit like standing in a painting, a masterful study of light and dark, inside and out, freedom and desire.’ – Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First

‘What would a Vermeer look like painted by its subject? Measured, intense, precise, explosive, sensual, violent, mesmerising.’ – Joanna Walsh, author of Break.up

‘To read Indelicacy is akin to donning magnifying spectacles that distil a woman’s past into modern reality, these lucid and uncanny lenses remaining on the eye far beyond her pages.’ – Josephine Foster, musical artist