The Dreaming Girl by Roberta Allen

ISBN 978-0-9637536-6-3 | Fiction | 142 pages | $14

Order from Small Press Distribution,

 through your local independent bookstore and Amazon.

Buy the eBook.

Review on Goodreads.

A young American traveler in Belize has a brief affair with a man known only as the German. In The Dreaming Girl, Roberta Allen’s exquisite and incantatory language slyly manifests how reality may be bent and blurred by desires hidden even to ourselves.

Praise for The Dreaming Girl

Told in a series of elliptical tableaux and bound by stream of consciousness, Roberta Allen’s The Dreaming Girl is an example of everything that shouldn’t work, and yet it does. Like a literary descendant of Duras, Allen places her unnamed narrator in an exotic Central American limbo that propels her mind into a mesmerizing state somewhere between memory and fantasy.

—Ken Foster, The Village Voice

A warm, erotic book, not merely in its story and imagery, but in the very way its prose is structured… Reading this book has the effortless tug of slow water in a jungle river, the buoyant languor of a dream

—John Olson, Rain Taxi Review of Books

A choral work where there are endless variations on the same theme, each beautifully developed… The girl’s jungle is not some Henri Rousseau sketch conjured second-hand after an afternoon spent at the Jardin de Plants. Rather it has the precision of field notes written by a solipsistic ecologist.

—Mary Mackey, The American Book Review

The emotional life depicted in short, potent layers of sentence upon sentence, builds to a story that brings us beyond that of just two people visiting a particular place… Allen’s exquisite distillation to essence most usually evident in the fine arts is, in her Dreaming Girl, translated to the literary.

Spirit of Change

The hypnotic prose of The Dreaming Girl is effortless to read, especially once the reader gets used to the ways the author flouts convention… The story is archetypal, lovely on the surface, and vaguely disturbing on a deeper level. In a word, dreamlike.

Review of Contemporary Fiction

[A]n excellent and very much recommended read that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Midwest Book Review

[R]ecalls the high modernist novels of a century ago, both in its feel and in its subject matter. The execution, however, is contemporary, with the prose as clear as glass yet with a depth that catches the light differently each time you view it from varying angles. The dreamlike quality of the novel’s structure and its timelessness informs the characters and the vibrant imagery. All together, the book itself is like a dream, feeling familiar on its surface and in summary but shot through with strangeness and beauty in the best parts.

The Collagist

Allen captures with magnificent nuance the emotions and moments that go with the territory of relating… The jungle itself—the heat, the sea, the blackness, the stillness, the crawling, buzzing living things—is languid, surprising, dream-like. In describing it, repetitive words and declarative sentences act as a kind of rosary, confirming that the astonishing world is, indeed, as it is.

The Brooklyn Rail

The writing is extraordinary. Roberta Allen’s descriptions are poetic, from commonplace incidents to the grandeur of nature…The short journey is filled with poignant and disturbing views of the human scene, with a sometimes sobering look at our own fantasies.

The Bloomsbury Review


Praise for Roberta Allen

Ms. Allen depicts exotic climes with an unerring eye… Her stories intimately convey the spiritual malaise of people at odds with an alien environment or with their own deeply shrouded impulses. —The New York Times Book Review


Allen’s gift is for showing how things go sour between people unexpectedly… Her evocation of the feeling of foreign places and the erotic waywardness they inspire is exactly right. —Gary Indiana


In these short, often poignant fictions that disclose an adumbrated “self,” otherness becomes the measure of life — the unexpected. —Walter Abish


Roberta Allen transmits the pain and compensating strangeness of living in vignettes as urgent and enigmatic as telegrams. —John Ashbery


Read an excerpt

About Roberta Allen

Roberta Allen is the author of eight books, including two collections of short fiction, The Traveling Woman (Vehicle Editions) and Certain People (Coffee House Press); a novella in short short stories, The Daughter (Autonomedia); a memoir, Amazon Dream (City Lights); the novel The Dreaming Girl (Painted Leaf, 2000, and Ellipsis Press, 2011); and several writing guides. Allen was on the faculty of The New School for many years and has also taught at Columbia University. She was a Tennessee Williams Fellow in Fiction in 1998. An established visual artist, she has exhibited worldwide, with work in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Roberta Allen: Layers & Lines from yellowchair reality on Vimeo. Produced and directed by Ivan Weiss.

ISBN 978-0-9637536-6-3 | Fiction | 142 pages | $14 

Buy today and receive free shipping! 

Available here and Small Press Distribution,

through your local independent bookstore and Amazon.

Review on Goodreads.