The Angel Esmeralda : Nine Stories

A short story collection by Don DeLillo

Published by Scribner in November, 2011. 211 pages. Here's the original dust jacket copy. Here's a link to the publisher's page on the book: The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories.
The Angel Esmeralda editions.

No dedication.


Part One

  • "Creation" (1979)
  • "Human Moments in World War III" (1983)

    Part Two

  • "The Runner" (1988)
  • "The Ivory Acrobat" (1988)
  • "The Angel Esmeralda" (1994)

    Part Three

  • "Baader-Meinhof" (2002)
  • "Midnight in Dostoevsky" (2009)
  • "Hammer and Sickle" (2010)
  • "The Starveling" (2011)

    Image of the Picador edition, UK

    Here are links to some of the media coverage for The Angel Esmeralda:

    The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the annual 2011 Story Prize for best story collection, to be awarded March 21. Among other nominees are Edith Pearlman and Steven Millhauser (Millhauser won).

    Edmonton Journal, "Nuggets from a reluctant prophet" by Michael Hingston, Jan. 8, 2012. (apparently no longer online, was at:

    In this new context, relieved of their pressure to serve as a global sociopolitical thermometer, the stories in Esmeralda read freer and breathe easier, serving instead as contiguous chapters in DeLillo's singular world view. So it's only natural that the astronauts in 1983's "Human Moments in World War III" speak with the exact same shades of suspicion and clinical detachment as the devout moviegoer of "The Starveling," published this fall in Granta. Why wouldn't they? This isn't our world we're reading about anymore; it's his.

    The Globe and Mail, "The temper of our times, according to Don DeLillo" by Matt Kavanagh, Dec. 12, 2011.

    In the end, what sets DeLillo apart from similarly lauded contemporaries such as Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison is this: Attuned to the way our everyday life is increasingly networked and mediated through a variety of screens, DeLillo was a 21st-century novelist long before Y2K. One might even say that it was his sojourn in the image factories of Madison Avenue that made him that way.
    (Jan. 16, 2012)

    LA Times, "Book Review of 'The Angel Esmeralda'" by David L. Ulin, Nov. 27, 2011.

    For DeLillo, the idea is to reflect, in his characters and their situations, something of our reality, in which we exist, as a matter of course, at the end of our endurance, not necessarily in extreme situations but pushed to extremes nonetheless.

    Washington Post, "'The Angel Esmeralda' Don DeLillo's first collection of short stories" by Troy Jollimore, Nov. 28, 2011.

    Nothing I can say about DeLillo on the basis of 'The Angel Esmeralda' will come as news to anyone familiar with his novels: His prose is masterly and austere, he has a deconstructionist's obsession with the arbitrariness of language, and his interest in human beings often seems less a matter of passionate engagement than of clinical detachment.

    New York Observer, "Conversation Starter: Don DeLillo's Short Stories" by James Camp, Nov. 29, 2011.

    But it is dialogue, not description, that provides the ideal medium for this drolly rhythmic American writer. Mr. DeLillo likes the sound of real speech, and the sound of it turning surreal. In 'Esmeralda,' he has some fun with a slum dweller in the Bronx, who encourages kids to cut loose their parents, lest they start "dangering their safety." This same character has already exposed the component parts of a familiar word: "She be a addict. They un, you know, predictable." The line cleverly takes advantage of the little hiccup ("you know") that manifests its lifelikeness, suggesting that the unpredictability of the junkie is actually a form of predictability.

    (Dec. 23, 2011)

    The New Yorker, Nov. 21, 2011, an expansive Martin Amis review "Laureate of Terror".

    Very broadly, we read fiction to have a good time - though this is not to deny that the gods have equipped DeLillo with the antennae of a visionary. There is right field, and there is left field. He comes from third field - aslant, athwart. And I love The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories.

    NY Times Sunday Book Review, "Don DeLillo and the Varieties of American Unease" by Liesl Schillinger, Nov. 17, 2011.

    On the whole, though, these short stories ("Hammer and Sickle," at 34 pages, is the longest) serve as oddly liberating reminders that terror existed before there was a war on it; that human frailty is not a phase, is not avoidable, is not exceptional.

    Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 20, 2011, review by Kevin Grauke, "Stories tracing the arc of DeLillo's career" (was on the web at "" but now gone).

    Furthermore, the cryptic nature of these stories (and the enigmatic characters that populate them) aims to create an aura of mysterious profundity, but we're left more often with the aggravating sense that DeLillo has come to perceive himself as a "wisdom writer" (as Harold Bloom has described him) to such a degree that he now assumes that mere oblique suggestiveness of subjects and themes is sufficient to convey his penetrating insight.

    (Nov. 20, 2011)

    Michiko Kakutani's review in the NY Times, Nov. 16, 2011, "Angry Landscape Up Close"

    The stories in this volume should be read by anyone who misses the early DeLillo or who wonders whether he had permanently retreated to a high-altitude philosophical plane and renounced his ability to conjure a recognizably surreal America.

    NPR segment with DeLillo interview, Nov. 14, 2011.

    With the release of his new short-story collection, DeLillo will mark his 75th birthday. In the decades since he published Americana, he says, little has changed - in his own life, that is. "Just walking around, eating a meal, sitting at the desk to do some work, I'm no different," he says. "Of course I'm aware of the actual chronology in which I'm embedded, but it's not usually a particular source of concern or annoyance. Most of the time, I could be 22 - 23 at the most."

    "Don DeLillo discusses first story collection" interview by Hillel Italie, AP story dated Nov 15, 2011.

    "People have said over the years that short stories are more difficult to write than novels. But not for me," he says. "Once the story is established in a writer's mind, it's not that easy to go way off track. You can mess it up in certain ways, but it's much easier to mess up a novel than a short story."
    (Nov. 16, 2011)
    Back to DeLillo's stories.
    Last updated: 16-JAN-2012