Adam Haslett's first collection of stories, You Are Not a Stranger Here, is already causing a furore in the USA. The nine stories are set in Los Angeles, the Midwest, New England and England, but each summons its own complete and distinctive world. What unites them is the refined writing - elegiac in some instances - and a raw emotional power that carries the reader past the surface of the subject and into the core of the characters' lives. The characters include a widower, a teenage boy, a young couple, middle-aged siblings, a father and son, a bereaved mother, a psychiatrist, an orphaned boy who finds solace in a classmate's violence. There is grief, passion, loneliness, humour - marvellous humour - and longing in these stories, but ultimately the book sets off the shock of recognition that takes readers past the cliched language of human suffering and brings them to understand their own experience through the characters' lives.