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The Fetishist

"A brilliant, surprising novel where a lonely man is punished for fetishising his Asian partners"

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

‘Ha! Once Asian, never again Caucasian. Alma recalled her words to Daniel, her foolish clever words, as if joking about being racially interchangeable could protect her from it, as if being right had ever protected anyone from anything.’ 

Following three sets of characters who we realise are interconnected through the violinist Daniel, who was once engaged to Alma, and ruined the life of Kyoko’s mother. It’s brilliant at conveying truthful, believable contradictions in people – for example, an early scene involves a character about to murder someone, only to discover the victim already in the act of trying to kill himself – the would-be murderer is so furious and surprised that they actually save his life, supposedly in order to be able to kill him themself. Dry and confronting, it thinks about revenge and desire, how love and the betrayal of love can make people do crazy things, and in particular the experience of Asian women being Othered, and not seen as individual subjects by the white men who sleep with them. 

The manuscript was dated 2014, and has then been there is something otherworldly and timeless about it, but not at all out of date, still feels startling and surprising and urgent. There’s even a passage that felt almost prescient of how Western cultures laid the blame for Covid at the foot of Asian communities. It makes me want to read Katherine Min’s other novel, Secondhand World, and what a loss to literature that there won’t be more novels from Min. 

Lily Lindon

Star Books

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