Brother and Sister Enter the Forest

Author: Mirabella, Richard

Publication Date:

March 2023

Original language and publisher

English | Catapult

Territories Handled

World excl. English North America


Debut Novel, Literary Fiction

Brother and Sister Enter the Forest

Author: Mirabella, Richard


Riveting, Relentless. A novel of calm and chilling reserve and accomplishment. — Joy Williams, author of Harrow

A unique, evocative novel that doesn’t shy away from awkwardness and pain. Mirabella’s debut delves into the stubborn, haunted connections between his characters and those they’ve known and loved. A doomed road trip, the aftereffects of an injury. Mirabella’s sentences reveal darkness and truth in the remembered past and the fractured present. A wry, original, new voice in fiction! — Rachel B Glaser, author of Paulina & Fran

The title is inspired by the Grimm’s fairy tale, Little Brother and Little Sister, which partially inspired the novel, and also is a reference to a work of art, a diorama, created by the sister character, Willa, which is described in the novel, but not named. The diorama shows a young girl with deer on a leash, walking into a dark forest. The forest is not totally metaphorical, as for the main character, Justin, a life-changing moment of violence occurs in the woods.

I started the novel wanting to write about the homophobia I encountered in my teen years, but could only do so by inventing a life unlike mine, as I was too close to the subject. I created a sister, a difficult mother/son relationship, a sociopathic first boyfriend. I often go to fairy tales for inspiration: the dark woods and the violence that occurs therein, the surreal imagery of Willa (the sister’s) art work. The novel is very much about the complicated relationship between the siblings. I hope there’s a feeling of menace within. The book touches on toxic masculinity, homophobia, violence, but also the love between the siblings, and finally love and friendship among a found queer family.