The Worlds We Think We Know

The Worlds We Think We Know

“A profound debut from a writer of great talent.” —ADAM JOHNSON
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Fiercely funny and entirely original, this debut collection of stories takes readers from the United States to Israel and back again to examine the mystifying reaches of our own minds and hearts.  

The characters of The Worlds We Think We Know are animated by forces at once passionate and perplexing. At a city zoo, a mismatched couple unite by releasing rare birds. After being mugged in the streets of New York, a professor must repeat the crime to recover his memory—and his lost love. In Tel Aviv, a sandstorm rages to expose old sorrows and fears as far away as Ohio. And from an unnamed Eastern European country, a woman haunts the husband who left her behind for a new life in America.

In Dalia Rosenfeld’s prose, the foreign becomes familiar and the mundane magical. The Worlds We Think We Know is a dazzling debut—clear-eyed, empathetic, and heartbreaking.

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5.5 × 8.5 × 0.75 in
12 oz

Dalia Rosenfeld

Dalia Rosenfeld is the author of The Worlds We Think We Know, a collection of short stories. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, her work has appeared in publications including the Atlantic, AGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, and Colorado Review. She teaches writing at Bar Ilan University and lives with her three children in Tel Aviv.

Praise and Prizes

  • The Worlds We Think We Know depicts the worlds of cultural and ethnic Jews, worlds she reveals are sometimes at odds, sometimes overlapping, and always tinged with the darkness of a people long persecuted yet cut with the humor it takes to survive… . Through her poignant prose and spare, effective dialogue, Rosenfeld conveys a multi-dimensional portrait of the worlds of Jewishness.”


    Los Angeles Review
  • “A wholly unique voice … Equal parts funny and sorrowful, strange and grounded, human and sometimes magical. At the heart of many of these stories are relationships—the beautiful and terrible things we do to and for one another, the bizarre encounters and transforming moments. And above all these stories demonstrate how, from Tel Aviv to Ohio and everywhere in between, we each love and lose, and fall and rise again, in the same, beautifully human, ways.”

  • “Funny and poignant … The lush melancholy of this collection is bolstered by the characters’ deep intelligence and wit… . Jewish history is shredded through with displacement, and many of Rosenfeld’s characters are caught in the position of a having a long cultural history and no sense of home.”

    Electric Literature
  • “Dalia Rosenfeld’s debut book of stories is funny, touching, awkward, and wry… . This collection charms with quiet humor.”

  • “Striking and consistently compelling … The characters in The Worlds We Think We Know are often traveling or dreaming of it, navigating different languages, or stepping uneasily out of their steady lives… . The stories don’t end with answers to the questions their narrators are asking, and like any good story collection, neither does the book. Instead, it illustrates the gray area in which we live, in which national and self identities cannot be easily defined, and offers hope for connection.”

    The Riveter
  • “A profound debut from a writer of great talent.”

    Adam Johnson
    author of The Orphan Master’s Son
  • “I’ve read Dalia Rosenfeld’s stories with huge admiration: the tone, the perfectly balanced control of every sentence in the space made for it by the sentence before, the quiet implicitness of every gesture, the scenes so well observed that they seem like indelible steel engravings, and especially, whole lives subliminally yet substantively limned by a phrase or two. Rosenfeld points to a shimmering spot just beyond the horizon, and leaves us yearning.”

    Cynthia Ozick
    author of Foreign Bodies
  • “There are moments when her portrayals of the foibles of misfits and unreliable narrators or cryptic urban encounters are appealingly suggestive of a Raymond Carver or Grace Paley sensibility (their quiet epiphanies, little notes of grace), but mostly Rosenfeld is unlike any writer you’ve ever read and I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

    Jewish Book Council
  • “Dalia Rosenfeld is very funny, Jewish, and wise.”

    Gary Shteyngart
    author of Super Sad True Love Story
  • The Worlds We Think We Know is a gorgeous and wise collection of stories filled with deeply human and unforgettable characters. Dalia Rosenfeld is a profoundly gifted and compassionate writer, and this is an extraordinary debut.”

    Molly Antopol
    author of The UnAmericans