Books·Canadian

Shut Up You're Pretty

Shut Up You're Pretty is a short story collection by Téa Mutonji.

Téa Mutonji

In Téa Mutonji's disarming debut story collection, a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in fish, and a young woman decides to shave her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic.These punchy, sharply observed stories blur the lines between longing and choosing, exploring the narrator's experience as an involuntary one. Tinged with pathos and humour, they interrogate the moments in which femininity, womanness, and identity are not only questioned but also imposed.

Shut Up You're Pretty is the first book to be published under the imprint VS. Books, a series of books curated and edited by writer-musician Vivek Shraya featuring work by new and emerging Indigenous or black writers or writers of colour. (From Arsenal Pulp Press)

Shut Up You're Pretty was on the shortlist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.

Why Téa Mutonji wrote Shut Up You're Pretty

"I was first writing these stories independently and I realized that I was writing the same character for the protagonist. I wanted to explore why I was doing that. I didn't want to write a collection of short stories about a young black woman living her life and have it be suggested that it was the experience of all black women. I did understand, however, that it would probably be regarded as such because we don't have enough young women of colour writing.

That was important to me, to show that this is one woman experiencing different women in multiple ways and experiencing different experiences in multiple ways.- Téa Mutjoni

"I decided to keep it to one character so this could be viewed as one experience. That was important to me, to show that this is one woman experiencing different women in multiple ways and experiencing different experiences in multiple ways. This is not at all the experience of every person of colour, of every women, of every immigrant and of every person from that Galloway neighbourhood."

Read more in Téa Mutonji's interview with CBC Books.

Interviews with Téa Mutonji

Téa Mutonji talks to Shelagh Rogers about her Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize nominated novel, Shut Up Your Pretty. 17:00

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