Set in a medieval fiefdom beset by natural disasters, this addictively-paced novel presents a primal, thought-provoking exploration of structures of power, privilege and religion.
With its unique perspectives and bone-deep insights into humanity, Ottessa Moshfegh's writing never fails to amaze, and Lapvona sees her bold brilliance shine once again.
Thirteen-year-old shepherd boy Marek lives in the blighted medieval fiefdom of Lapvona, with this setting providing the brutal story-world stage to reveal humanity’s depraved underbelly – greed, corruption, barbaric imbalances between the rich and the poor, with the notion of human suffering being a virtue deployed by those in power.
Marek “was a small boy and had grown crookedly, his spine twisted in the middle…his legs were bowed. His head was misshapen”. Told by his father that his mother died in childbirth, Marek loves Ina, the blind village midlife; a wise woman with connections to nature and scared knowledge beyond that of the church. With her house in the woods underlining her liminality, Ina is a woman of miracles. The only sick person to have recovered from the plague, in her forties “sweet and creamy milk” weeps from her breasts.
Meanwhile, the village’s depraved governor Villiam literally lords over Lapvona from his lavish hilltop manor, with Father Barnabas on hand to do his dirty work. As famine and drought cause the villagers to starve, he lives to excess away from the death and violence, with Father Barnabas arranging intermittent appearances to maintain the weaponising of religion as a means of control.
As the story moves through the seasons and Marek becomes entangled to the lord, brutality and catastrophes mount, and all order is disrupted. With all the rich, brutal language and ambience of a dark folktale, this remarkable novel has deep allegorical resonance.
From the author of TikTok sensation My Year of Rest and Relaxation.
NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2022 BY Guardian, Harper's Bazaar, The Times, New Statesman, Good Housekeeping & Daily Mail.
In a village in a medieval fiefdom buffeted by natural disasters, a motherless shepherd boy finds himself the unlikely pivot in a power struggle that puts all manner of faith to a savage test, in a spellbinding novel that represents Ottessa Moshfegh's most exciting leap yet
Little Marek, the abused and delusional son of the village shepherd, never knew his mother; his father told him she died in childbirth. One of life's few consolations for Marek is his enduring bond with the blind village midwife, Ina, who suckled him when he was a baby, as she did for many of the village's children.
Ina's gifts extend beyond childcare: she possesses a unique ability to communicate with the natural world. Her gift often brings her the transmission of sacred knowledge on levels far beyond those available to other villagers, however religious they might be. For some people, Ina's home in the woods outside the village is a place to fear and to avoid, a godless place.
Among their number is Father Barnabas, the town priest and lackey for the depraved lord and governor, Villiam, whose hilltop manor contains a secret embarrassment of riches. The people's desperate need to believe that there are powers that be who have their best interests at heart is put to a cruel test by Villiam and the priest, especially in this year of record drought and famine.
But when fate brings Marek into violent proximity to the lord's family, new and occult forces upset the old order. By year's end, the veil between blindness and sight, life and death, the natural world and the spirit world will prove to be very thin indeed.
|Publication date:||23rd June 2022|
|Publisher:||Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing|
|Primary Genre||Literary Fiction|
Moshfegh expertly creates a world with its own superstitions and laws, both timeless and topical. - Oprah Daily
Deliriously quirky medieval tale . . . Moshfegh brings her trademark fascination with the grotesque to depictions of the pandemic, inequality, and governmental corruption, making them feel both uncanny and all too familiar. It's a triumph. - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Booker-shortlisted Ottessa Moshfegh is likely to out-weird most things published next year - set in a medieval fiefdom, could it be a work of genius, too? -- Stephanie Cross - Daily Mail,Books to Look Out For 2022*
One of America's most celebrated authors continues her exploration of what fiction has to offer with a further digression from the standard realist purview and into fantasy... a fascinating premise, and I'm excited to see the yarn Moshfegh is able to weave. - Chicago Review of Books
No one is quite who he first seems in the latest wicked tale from macabre master Moshfegh . . . Sculpting an eerily canny fabular world of contrasts and evil, cartoonish cruelty, in her signature way, Moshfegh conjures a grotesque, disturbing story of gross inequality and senseless strife. - Booklist - Starred Review
Moshfegh is one of the most original and astute young novelists working today. - Daily Telegraph
The superabundantly talented...Moshfegh's sentences are piercing and vixenish... she is always a deep pleasure to read. - New York Times (on MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION)
Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from Boston. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize for her stories in The Paris Review and granted a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her novel Eileen was awarded the 2016 Pen/Hemingway Award.More About Ottessa Moshfegh