Rosenblatt, Sari: Father Guards the Sheep

In Sari Rosenblatt’s collection, Father Guards the Sheep (University of Iowa Press, 2020), 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.

Sari Rosenblatt earned an MFA (1984) from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has won awards for her stories from Nimrod International Journal of Prose and PoetryGlimmer Train, New Millenium Writings, and Ms Magazine. She has been published in the Iowa Review and has taught fiction writing at several schools, most recently the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven. Her first book of short stories, Father Guards the Sheep, was winner of the 2020 Iowa Short Fiction Award. Sari has also completed a novel, “Daughter of Retail”, based on the first short story in Father Guards the Sheep.