Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin
Penguin Books, 2018; 256 pp
Reviewed by Guia Cortassa


Danielle Lazarin's Back Talk is a collection of women, before that of short stories. Within the page, the characters she crafts with her writing live with their mind and their bodies, aware of their physical existence and the space they inhabit in this world, and aware of both their acts and the reactions they might get in return.

Story after story, we are asked to witness all kind of relationships in spectrum of life: friendships, familiar ties, sexual encounters, love stories; we share the gaze of so many different females that, at a certain point, we end up losing ourselves. We are one and the same with them, yet they feel so different from us. It's impossible not to empathise and identify our owns with their thoughts and their behaviours—we've all been to at least one of the places they find themselves in, once in our lives—and still we freeze when we get there, thinking about our experience. We live through their eyes, reading the page as a journal entry with no judgement or morals, but simply as a recollection of the whole personal experience, flawed and unique as it may be. Nothing is otherworldly or paroxysmal in the narratives, mundane things are more than enough to disclose what shapes the reality of a breathing body, what moves the psyche of a living being and makes them reclaim their spot on Earth, asserting their right to be acknowledged, and seen, and heard, and accepted with no compromise.

We see years pass, or just a handful of minutes, but the hic et nunc of the action is never lost: with her words, Lazarin offers a new, contemporary take on Existentialism, showing the power of the human subject as the prime mover of the entire Universe.