Call Me Ahab

Winner of the 2008 Book Prize in Fiction

About the Book

Imagine a Hollywood encounter between Helen Keller and Frida Kahlo, “two female icons of disability.” Or the story of “Moby Dick, or, The Leg,” told from Ahab’s perspective. What if Vincent Van Gogh resided in a twentieth-century New York hotel, surviving on food stamps and direct communications with God? Or if the dwarf pictured in a seventeenth-century painting by Velazquez should tell her story? And, finally, imagine the encounter between David and Goliath from the Philistine’s point of view. These are the characters who people history and myth as counterpoints to the “normal.” And they are also the characters who populate Anne Finger’s remarkable short stories. Affecting but never sentimental, ironic but never cynical, these wonderfully rich and comic tales reimagine life beyond the margins of “normality.”


You can read an excerpt from Call Me Ahab on the University of Nebraska Press website here.


“In this marvelously original collection, Finger explores the nature and function of legendary outcasts, from Goliath, initially ridiculed for his giantism before he became a savior of the Philistines, to Vincent Van Gogh, tortured madman and impoverished artist caught in a bureaucratic vacuum as he waits for his Social Security benefits. . . . Brisk, inventive and intelligent, these stories do their own thing, and do it well.”—Publishers Weekly

“Anne Finger’s award-winning Call Me Ahab showcases a plethora of historical and literary characters—each of whom is in some way disabled—and imagines new scenarios for their lives. . . . It is a cheering section for the forgotten and under-appreciated and a testament to creativity, whimsy, and intellect.”—Eleanor J. Bader, Feminist Review

“Finger’s unabashedly bold tales creatively reimagine outcasts real and invented.”—Leah Strauss, Booklist “Finger is a talented storyteller, delivering voices and situations with smooth conviction. The scenes she creates jump time and place without jarring the reader. . . . Finger has strength in her storytelling, and hopefully that strength will reach a wide audience.”—Amy Halloran,

“A fascinating glimpse into the varieties of human difference.”—Ben Hamilton, “Refusing to smooth over the idiosyncrasies of history and human life, she has, instead, successfully written her text with them.”—Alyssa Pelish, Rain Taxi

Anne Finger

About the Author

Anne Finger has published four other books, including two works of nonfiction, Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio (St. Martin’s Press) and Past Due: A Story of Disability, Pregnancy and Birth (Seal Press); a collection of short stories, Basic Skills (University of Missouri Press); and a novel, Bone Truth (Coffee House Press). She has taught creative writing at Wayne State University and the University of Texas, as a writer-in-residence at the Woman’s Building in L.A and the San Francisco Independent Living Resource Center, and in elementary, middle, and high schools. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, Djerassi, Centrum, and Hedgebrook. Her short fiction has appeared in the Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares, among other journals.