Lapvona: A Novel (Hardcover)
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In a village in a medieval fiefdom buffeted by natural disasters, a motherless shepherd boy finds himself the unlikely pivot of 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 so 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 of 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.
“Lapvona flips all the conventions of familial and parental relations, putting hatred where love should be or a negotiation where grief should be . . . Through a mix of witchery, deception, murder, abuse, grand delusion, ludicrous conversations, and cringeworthy moments of bodily disgust, Moshfegh creates a world that you definitely don’t want to live in, but from which you can’t look away.” —Maya Chung, The Atlantic
“The author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, EW's pick for the best book of 2018, turns her inimitable lens to a medieval fiefdom ruled by deeply tribal ideas of class, family, and faith. The result reads like a cracked fairy tale, both familiar and fantastically strange.” —Entertainment Weekly, 16 novels we're excited for this summer
“Ottessa Moshfegh brings her trademark brutality to the Middle Ages in this allegorical pandemic novel. . . . interrogating the role faith plays in social and environmental abuses of power.” —Adam Morgan, The Scientific American
“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
“At once immensely alien and deeply human, Moshfegh’s latest is a brutal, inventive novel about the ways that stories and the act of storytelling shape us and articulate our world.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“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)
“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. Lapvona promises to chronicle the life of Ina, a blind midwife in a medieval village. Ina’s talent doesn’t stop at childcare, and allows her a special connection with the surrounding natural world. It’s a fascinating premise, and I’m excited to see the yarn Moshfegh is able to weave.” —Chicago Review of Books