Jenny Hval's debut novel is every bit as striking and sensuous as her music, a synaesthetic dreamworld of bodies, fruit, plants, and decay delivered in close, breathy prose. First published in Norwegian in 2009, Paradise Rot is finally finding an international readership thanks to Marjam Idriss's English translation which is permeated with a slow, ethereal, and very peculiar horror.
Join us as we welcome the authors of two of 2018's most celebrated debut novels to discuss their approaches to writing the experiences of women.
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia and Sky, kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them - three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.
The Water Cure is a fever dream, a blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood and transformation.
Sophie Mackintosh won the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize and the 2016 Virago/Stylist Short Story competition, and has been published in Granta magazine and TANK magazine among others. The Water Cure is her first novel, and is longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
Ponti by Sharlene Teo
2003. Singapore. Friendless and fatherless, sixteen-year-old Szu lives in the shadow of her mother Amisa, once a beautiful actress and now a hack medium performing séances with her sister in a rusty house. When Szu meets the privileged, acid-tongued Circe, they develop an intense friendship which offers Szu an escape from her mother’s alarming solitariness, and Circe a step closer to the fascinating, unknowable Amisa.
Seventeen years later, Circe is struggling through a divorce in fraught and ever-changing Singapore when a project comes up at work: a remake of the cult seventies horror film series ‘Ponti’, the very project that defined Amisa’s short-lived film career. Suddenly Circe is knocked off balance: by memories of the two women she once knew, by guilt, and by a past that threatens her conscience...
Told from the perspectives of all three women, Ponti by Sharlene Teo is an exquisite story of friendship and memory spanning decades. Infused with mythology and modernity, with the rich sticky heat of Singapore, it is at once an astounding portrayal of the gaping loneliness of teenagehood, and a vivid exploration of how tragedy can make monsters of us.
Sharlene Teo was born in Singapore in 1987. She has an LLB in Law from the University of Warwick and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she received the Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship and the David TK Wong Creative Writing award. She holds fellowships from the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation and the University of Iowa International Writing Program. In 2016, she won the inaugural Deborah Rogers Writer’s Award for Ponti, her first novel.
An astounding follow-up to the universally celebrated Conversations With Friends, Sally Rooney's second novel somehow goes even further in deftly illuminating the emotional minutia of contemporary relationships. Ostensibly charting the course of an on-off relationship between two students at Trinity College Dublin, Normal People delivers, in the characters of Marianne and Connell, some of the most intelligent, sensitive, and quietly profound insights into the complexities of human connection found anywhere in recent fiction. Completely essential reading.