In Sari Rosenblatt’s collection, by turns tender and hilarious, we see fathers who are bullies and nervous watchdogs, haunted by their own pasts and fear of the future they may never see. And who do their daughters become? A substitute teacher who encounters mouthy students who believe she’s not real. Another lands a job on her city’s arson squad, researching derelict properties their owners might want to burn. A beleaguered mother, humiliated by the PTA’s queen bee, finds solace in an ancient piece of caramel candy. “I keep sucking,” she says, “until some flavor, no longer caramel, comes out.” In the end, this is what all these finely wrought characters want: to wring sweetness from what’s been passed down to them.
Rosenblatt’s comic sensibility, so present in these stories, entertains and consoles, while seeming to say to her readers: you might as well laugh.
“Like the fiction of the great Anne Tyler, Sari Rosenblatt’s Father Guards the Sheep is populated with characters who are humane, sympathetic, and lovably askew. Rosenblatt’s eight stories are polished perfect gems.”—Wally Lamb, author, I Know This Much Is True
“What a joy! Sari Rosenblatt writes with the great, good heart and wit of the very best Grace Paley, and the miraculous pop and fizz of sentences that go off like fireworks. You will laugh and cry your way through these stories, seeing yourself, and the men, women, and children you love—sometimes with breathtaking accuracy, at other times reflected in a funhouse mirror—on each and every page.”—Eileen Pollack, author, The Professor of Immortality
“Wicked sly and wryly alive, these stories get you coming and going, then get you again. Grounded, deft, and wise, Father Guards the Sheep is life regarded with an eye like no other. Read it and enjoy!”—Gish Jen, author, The Resisters
“I dare any reader of Father Guards the Sheep not to laugh out loud through every story, while at the same time failing to be deeply moved by these entwined narratives. The author shows us the daily miracle of loving other people, even when we can’t stand them just now, or they don’t love us back as we want them to. Rosenblatt’s exquisite sense of rhythm and rhyme set off her comic timing to perfection.”—Mother Jones
“Moving, funny, and beautifully observed, the stories of Father Guards the Sheep create a captivating portrait of lives in transition. The narrators are often looking back at events long past, and an elegiac tone emerges as we witness the decline of relationships, a once-bustling department store, and an abrasive yet vulnerable patriarch. Throughout, Rosenblatt proves herself an engaging and empathetic storyteller with a keen eye for the revealing gesture.”—Tom Drury, judge, Iowa Short Fiction Award
“Fans of Stephanie Vaughn’s cult classic Sweet Talk shouldn’t miss this collection, which shares its tender fascination with the sometimes loving, sometimes fraught relationships between fathers and children. Warm as a heavy coat with a familiar scent, Father Guards the Sheep invites us into worlds of ordinary inheritance, where moments of transcendence bubble up from strange circumstances like much-needed laughter.”—Chicago Review of Books
“Sari Rosenblatt’s prize-winning collection, Father Guards the Sheep, offers a refreshing new voice. The stories are brisk with wit yet tempered by a rare understanding of emotional confusion and family dynamics. You want to laugh and cry at once while reading these ruthlessly clever, tender portraits of young and old facing life’s turning points.”—Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author, Disturbances in the Field
“Father Guards the Sheep is simply a superb collection that immediately caught my whole attention and sent me reeling into an original and separate existence that only the finest writing can do. Each story is complete in itself, but their connection is almost novelistic in its revelation of one family in particular, and of an entire community, as well. I haven’t come across a voice this original in a very long time, and I think several of these stories are small masterpieces. Rosenblatt has managed to shape this book in a way that leaves the reader as the interpreter, and there is not a contrived situation to be found on a single page. Father Guards the Sheep is one of the few books I’ve genuinely savored in a very long time.”—Robb Forman Dew, author, Dale Loves Sophie to Death
2021 Connecticut Book Awards, finalist