Lapvona

Ottessa Moshfegh

Book - 2022

"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 bl...ind 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"--

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1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Moshfegh Ottessa (NEW SHELF) Due Jul 16, 2022
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Subjects
Genres
Novels
Published
New York : Penguin Press 2022.
Language
English
Physical Description
pages cm
ISBN
9780593300268
0593300262
Main Author
Ottessa Moshfegh (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In Lapvona, a grim sort of fairy-tale place, in an unspecified long-ago time, motherless young Marek lives with his father, Jude, a shepherd of lambs and Marek's brutal opposite: physically strong while Marek, who "had grown crookedly," is "fragile;" simple in his faith while Marek obsesses scrupulously. With Marek's mother lost in childbirth, he, like Jude and many Lapvonians over the last century, has grown up relying on blind, ancient medicine woman and wet nurse Ina, though her milk has finally dried up. Readers soon learn that no one is quite who he first seems in the latest wicked tale from macabre master Moshfegh (Death in Her Hands, 2020)—except, maybe, for Lord Villiam, a ridiculous buffoon whom Lapvona's villagers are powerless to ridicule. The novel begins with an Easter-time attack and spills across the four following seasons, after Marek's violent choice sets into motion chaotic change that leaves almost every Lapvonian in new standing and the entire village facing drought and starvation while Villiam diverts mountain runoff to his idyllic manor's moat and lake. 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. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

International award winner Cercas expands to literary suspense inEven the Darkest Night, featuring a young ex-con who read Les Misérables in jail and after the murder of his sex-worker mother joins the Barcelona police and is sent to investigate a particularly brutal double murder outside the city. In another genre blender, the New York Times best-selling Crosley purveys humor, psychological twistiness, and strong writing to create what could be a Cult Classic featuring a woman who leaves a work dinner to buy cigarettes and encounters a string of ghostly ex-boyfriends (100,000-copy first printing). From Dermansky (e.g., the multi-best-booked The Red Car), Hurricane Girl sends 32-year-old Allison Brody from the West Coast to the East Coast, where she buys a small house on the beach and is promptly hit by a Category 3 hurricane that leaves her with a bleeding head and some very confused thoughts. Following Delicious Foods, which boast PEN/Faulkner and Hurston/Wright Legacy honors, Hannaham's Didn't Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta features a woman who transitioned in prison and is finally released after more than two decades, returning apprehensively to a New York she barely knows and a family that doesn't understand her (40,000-copy first printing). Winner of the Publishing Triangle's Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, Holleran returns after 13 years with The Kingdom of Sand, whose nameless narrator has survived the death of friends from AIDS and his parents from old age and tragedy and is surviving his own end time by enjoying classic films and near-anonymous sexual encounters (50,000-copy first printing). In Laskey's So Happy for You, following Center for Fiction First Novel finalist Under the Rainbow, Robin and Ellie have always been best friends, but queer academic Robin has her doubts about being maid of honor in Ellie's forthcoming wedding. In the medieval-set Lapnova, from ever-edgy, New York Times best-selling Moshfegh, hapless shepherd's son Marek—close only to a midwife feared for her ungodly way with nature—is caught up in the violence surrounding a cruel and corrupt lord. In this follow-up to Newman's multi-starred The Heavens, all The Men in the world mysteriously vanish at once, leaving women both to grieve and to rebuild. Prix Marguerite Yourcenar winner Nganang follows up hisLJ best-booked When the Plums Are Ripe with A Trail of Crab Tracks, whose protagonist slowly reveals his story—and the story of Cameroon's independence—on a prolonged stay with his son in the United States. The dedicated assistant principal at a New Jersey public high school thinks she has a lock on the principal's job when the current principal retires, but alas for the durable protagonist of Perrotta's Election, Tracy Flick [still] Can't Win (300,000-copy first printing). In Thrust, a motherless child from the late 21st century learns that she can connect with people over the last two centuries, from a French sculptor to a dictator's daughter; from Yuknavitch, a Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize finalist. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Moshfegh has always been keenly interested in a certain ugliness of humanity, and her latest work takes that preoccupation to its most literal ends yet. Her fourth novel (following Death in her Hands) is ostensibly a work of historical fiction, fixing itself in a small medieval fiefdom where water and religion reign; the narrative is structured according to the four seasons, all the better to communicate the relentless everyday suffering and misery on perverse exhibition therein. In truth, the work more squarely falls within the realm of fabulism, with period-specific magical realism flourishing the narrative. The author's familiar, acidic probing of peculiar psychologies remains largely in place, but here such grotesqueries are not only interior but exterior, each character a twisted fairy-tale creation subsumed within a bleak Middle Ages realism. For Moshfegh initiates, the pivot should feel appropriately organic; for the unfamiliar, the narrative's historical and fantastical tilts still offer plenty to chew on: the village of Lapvona is nothing if not an easy analogue for the implicit evil of class divide. But the novel's success lies in never explicitly committing to either blunt metaphor or cheap cock-and-bull storytelling, instead allowing Moshfegh's facility with trenchant character development to remain at the fore. VERDICT 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.—Luke Gorham Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Moshfegh's deliriously quirky medieval tale (after Death in Her Hands) revolves around a disabled shepherd boy's test of faith. Marek, 13, is abused by his father and raised by Ina, a midwife and witch who once nursed him as an infant. Still, Marek possesses a childlike faith in God. He'll need it. All is not well in the fiefdom of Lapvona: a plague ravages the people, a drought sours the earth, starvation spreads, and high atop a hill overlooking the village sits greedy Lord Villiam, a man who "believe that his appetite nothing but a physical symptom of his greatness" and consequently hoards all the food. Down below, Ina trades villagers psychedelic mushrooms for bread and eggs, and the mushrooms give people alternately visions of heaven and hell, either a respite from or an enhancement of the daily nightmare wrought on them by Villiam. Moshfegh's picture of medieval cruelty includes unsparing accounts of torture, rape, cannibalism, and witchcraft, and as Marek grapples with the pervasive brutality and whether remaining pure of heart is worth the trouble—or is even possible—the narrative tosses readers through a series of dizzying reversals. Throughout, 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. Agent: Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency. (June) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

As record drought and famine plague the village, a young shepherd boy finds himself caught in a power struggle between his people and their depraved lord and governor when occult forces arise to upset the old order. By the author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"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"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“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.” —The AtlanticIn 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 yetLittle 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.