Sarah Hall, photo credit: Richard Thwaites  


Madame Zero

'So fearsomely excellent it almost hurt to read. Truly the best collection I’ve come across in a decade.'
- Wells Tower

Madame Zero
Sarah Hall

Paperback publication date: July 2018

She is running and becoming smaller, running and becoming smaller, running in the light of the reddening sun, the red of her hair and her coat falling, the red of her fur and her body loosening. Running. Holding behind her a sudden, brazen object, white-tipped. Her yellow scarf trails in the briar. All vestiges shed.

Sarah Hall is one of the most daring, rewarding, and original writers at work today. Already acclaimed as prize-winning novelist, she is now just as feted as a radically gifted short story writer.

Madame Zero is a book of sometimes conflicting landscapes - rural, industrial, psychological - all of which are hauntingly resonant with dread. Whether set in an apocalyptic storm, local swimming pool, or surgical theatre, Hall's stories always inhabit the hinterland between the natural and urban, the mundane and surreal, human and animal.

From a wife's hidden sexual desires to a girl's secret phobias, Hall has a disturbing way of illuminating our buried impulses and sometimes occult motives. Marked by a fascination with the intimacy of nature - and the nature of intimacy - Madame Zero is the candescent new collection from an author twice nominated for the Man Booker Prize.


'Astonishing: humane yet otherworldly, disturbing, sexy and strange. The woman is a genius.' Jessie Burton, Observer Books of the Year

'These stories leave the reader unsettled, thrilled, and changed. This is a marvellous piece of work.' Jon McGregor

'Exceptional, compelling, frightening and authentic.' Guardian 'Book of the Day'

'So fearsomely excellent it almost hurt to read. Truly the best collection I’ve come across in a decade.' Wells Tower

'Sensual, shape-shifting tales from the alarmingly talented Sarah Hall.' Sunday Times Books of the Year

'Slick, sharp, sexy and subversive stories from the extravagantly talented Sarah Hall that never quite do what you expect them to.' Metro Fiction of the Year

'Stunning . . . brilliant stories . . . Each one is a leap into a dark, mysterious void that ultimately reveals glittering terrors therein.' Independent

'Elegant tales of sex, motherhood and transformation.' Guardian Best Fiction of the Year

'Terrific . . . Hall writes of the borderlands beyond social conformity in ripe, sensual prose . . . A collection to savour.' Metro

'These powerful stories are dazzling in range and execution.' Mail on Sunday

'The first tale won the BBC Short Story Award. Talk about setting the bar high. But the good news is, from the unnerving lyricism of that tale, ‘Mrs Fox’, to the visceral sexuality of ‘Evie’, the fiercely high standard never drops. A twenty-first-century take on the ghost story, this is uneasy – but essential – reading.' Sunday Telegraph

'Sarah Hall is a voice I love. Her new book of short stories, Madame Zero, is a showcase for her clean, vivid style and her surreal, often feral imagination.' Rupert Thomson, Observer Books of the Year

'Already Booker-shortlisted twice for her novels, Hall is an edgy, sensuous and immediate writer of striking power and grace.' Sunday Times

'In these darkly erotic and earthily haunting tales, Sarah Hall has created a kind of 21st century ghost story; a story in which we are the ghosts in our own machines, haunted by the damage we do to ourselves . . . in language rooted in the soil but elevated by dreams and visions.' Jon McGregor

'Great short stories are the shape of themselves: image, voice and plot dovetailed to the chosen form. Hall’s stories are vixen-shaped: urban and real, feral and natural, female and stinky, beautiful and tough.' Guardian 'Book of the Day'

'Hall writes brilliantly about women, particularly women as they are observed and imagined by men, and when she adopts the male gaze for her narrators and characters it is both virtuoso and troubling . . . All Hall’s short stories have at their heart an interest in base instinct rather than social convention, physical reaction rather than rational thought; and the intensity with which she explores the transgression of psychological, geographical and corporeal boundaries lends her work a darkly sensuous precariousness that’s uniquely challenging and compelling.' Melissa Harrison, Financial Times

'A dark and memorable set of stories . . . about characters who have vanished, become strange to themselves or stepped out of the centres of their own lives. The displacements are literal, figurative, and, occasionally, fantastical . . . But their poise, power, and assurance are very striking indeed.' New Statesman

'She is an ambitious writer, gliding between aeons, drawn to exotic locations . . . 'Evie' is a psychological drama about marriage and sex and longing – this is the murky, quixotic territory at which Hall excels.' Sara Baume, Irish Times

'Sarah Hall is one of those rare writers whose short fiction has the same luminosity as her novels. But the short form allows her more room to probe and roam, to experiment with form, to sink her fingers into the earth . . . Hall writes of the body with the same grace she writes of the earth, the cool slap of water, the scent of the air. She is alert to all things wild.' Observer

'The undercurrents of sensuality implicit in Hall’s prose finally swell into a powerful eroticism in the concluding story, ‘Evie’ . . . Hall distinguishes herself across an extraordinary range of stories, in full command of a protean style which adapts itself easily to each situation and narrator. Her prose, which can seem both understated and lushly evocative at the same time, haunts and sometimes unsettles.' Herald

'I’ve read some brilliant books this year, but a few stand out for me. Fiction-wise Sarah Hall’s short story collection, Madame Zero, was astonishing: humane yet otherworldly, disturbing, sexy and strange. The woman is a genius.' Jessie Burton, Observer Books of the Year

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