Unapologetic, raw yet graceful, Lidia Yuknavitch's memoir weaves in breathless prose a powerful story of self-expression, charting early abuse, addiction, homelessness, self-sabotage, and desire, while coming of age as a writer. All this is underpinned by two constants, the exhilaration/solace of being in water and rage/resilience it takes to be a woman. An extraordinary book.
A retired university professor in Berlin befriends a group of African asylum seekers and attempts to help them in various ways, so begins this sensitive and powerful novel. It cleverly portrays the culture gap as neither party knows anything about each other's history despite Richard's academic credentials, and their interactions show how the help he offers is informed by his own view of what is essential. Their common ground is hard won but the echoes of the East German perspective ripple through the book, without offering redemption the novel's main power is the subtle way it humanises all the characters. A must read.
Published by Granta on 2nd August 2018
A portrait of the chaotic and seamy underside of San Francisco's Mission district in which the narrator Jesse 'dabbles in perversity' with frightening abandon. The writing is exquisitely real, exhilarating while the book explores themes of self-annihilation, sex as a substitute for love, violence and power and how the main character, drawn to people who screw her over, finds self sabotage a transgressive act. Not for the faint-hearted.