ARC Review | The Age of Light

Title: The Age of Light

Author: Whitney Scharer

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Expected Publication Date: February 05, 2019

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

I was recently sent an ARC of The Age of Light by the publicists at Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review. This work of historical fiction by Whitney Scharer is expected to be published on February 05, 2019.

The Age of Light is a captivating and exhilarating narrative that keeps readers emotionally invested up to the very last page. Masquerading as historical fiction, the novel recounts the life of Vogue model turned photographer, Lee Miller and her relationship with Man Ray, one of the most influential figures of the Dada and Surrealists movements ensuing Paris in the 1930s.  Continue reading “ARC Review | The Age of Light”

Novelist Chloe Aridjis on Losing Adolescence and Retaining Imagination

A subtly crafted novel about disenchantment and the innocent sense of wanderlust that incite our rashest decisions, Chloe Aridjis has poetically recreated the world of the estranged and the isolated in her new novel, Sea Monsters, set to be released on February 05, 2019 by Catapult. Author of Asunder and Book of Clouds, Aridjis carries readers into magical landscapes of suppressed fears. Sea Monsters is a hypnotic exploration of an overcast youth entrapped in the dusty and nostalgic traces of the past. Mexican history and childish imagination come together to following a young girl’s quest for the unknown, and for herself.

Arranged by the publicity team at Catapult, I spoke to Chloe about the effects of history on identity in the novel, the decadence of youth, and the intoxicating curiosity that surrounds art. Characterized as a narrative “out of a central episode of my adolescence,” ahead, Aridijis brings readers into the poetically mysterious, romantically transcendent world of Sea MonstersContinue reading “Novelist Chloe Aridjis on Losing Adolescence and Retaining Imagination”

Review: The Vegetarian

Title: The Vegetarian

Author: Han Kang

Publisher: Hogarth Press

Publication Date: February 02, 2016

Genre: Literary Fiction

Rating: 4.5 Stars

The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a “kafkaesque”story of one woman’s ordinary life and how the onset of her mental illness leads to her becoming a societal outcast. It is a cerebral work of literary fiction that explores one woman’s suffering from the perspective of those that watch her suffer, sympathize with her, but who fail to understand her.

Yeong-hye and her husband were a very basic, middle class couple who expected nothing of the world but the bare necessities. Neither had hopes, nor dreams of achieving the unreachable. This was all before the nightmare: the bizarre, twisted dream that would change Yeong-hye’s life. The nightmare is dark, but splitting; mysterious, yet intriguing. We, nor the characters ever find out what the dream actually is. All we know is that it  leads to Yeong-hye cutting animal products from her diet. What follows is a horrific chain of events that manifests itself into a plague driven by eroticism, emotional and physical abuse, and self-starvation.

Yeong-hyes new way of life shocks her husband, her family, and all those who come across her decaying body. Desperate for her to snap out of this bizarre new fetish, Yeong-hye’s husband attempts multiple methods to get his wife to eat meat and even goes as far as literally raping her. Her father’s disaproval comes in the form of force feeding meat down her throat, to which Yeong-hye resists by getting a hold a knife and slitting her own wrist. This is the turning point of the novel away from Yeon-hye’s lifestyle being simply a concept of food. It has now grown into an obsessive disorder that damages and kills her inside out as the nightmare continues to invade and feed upon every aspect of her life.

The story is told from the perspective of Yeong-Hye’s husband, up to the point that he divorces her, to which the perspective changes to her sister, In-Hye’s husband. He is a deeply disturbed artist whose strange obsession with Yeong-Hye and her “Mongolian mark” leads to his own form of self-destruction. His artistic vision for Yeong-Hye recreates Yeong-Hye’s body into a work of art, and temporarily becomes a reprieve for Yeong-Hye from her nightmares. With a series of flowers painted over her naked body, she feels protected and stronger. The artwork’s pornographic turn is drastic and compelling. In-Hye’s husband’s part of the novel left me feeling deeply unsettled and conscious, more than ever of my own body, its limits, and the control that I have over it.

I found the last third of the novel to be the most bitter and hearbreaking. It is told in In-Hye’s voice, who, despite the utmost care she has for her sister, still fails to understand and soothe her. In-Hye desperately tries to hold onto Yeong-Hye’s life. She begins having her own form of nightmares, and often finds herself carried years back to her childhood with her sister. She is reminded of all of Yeong-Hye’s quirks and strange tendencies, only then coming to the realization that all of these little things Yeong-Hye had did or said, if they could have been addressed, or prevented, Yeong-Hye may have been saved.

The readers nor the three major characters are ever able to get inside of Yeong-Hye’s mind. All that is certain is that there was a dream and this dream grew into a monster having a life of it’s own, infecting each and every aspect of the lives of Yeong-Hye and those around her. The Vegetarian is doubtlessly an alienating novel that managed to leave a lasting impression on me.

Yours Truly,

(Book image credits go to Goodreads)