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Woman, eating : a novel
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Library Journal Review
DEBUT Presenting a genuinely fresh take on the vampire mythos is an exceedingly difficult task in a post-Twilight world of bloodsucker rehash, not to mention enduring classic representation, but that's precisely what Kohda manages in her debut novel. An artist born to a vampire mother and a human father, recently transplanted to the city where she begins an internship at a gallery and feels haunted by a predatory male superior, Lydia lives at the nexus of several different worlds. But while such a synopsis might suggest a work primed for melodrama, Kohda instead executes her narrative with practiced restraint reflective of her protagonist's own reticence in navigating a new existence. Indeed, Lydia's circumstance is never handled sensationally but rather mined for its mundanity: how best to avoid eating at a dinner party with peers, for instance, or where to discreetly obtain pig's blood in her new neighborhood. Kohda likewise smartly resists pat analogy, allowing vampirism to become more a texture to Lydia's growing pains than a guiding metaphor, and the only real consideration of lore is a brilliant subversion: for Lydia, the very act of "feeding" becomes an act of pure empathy. This loose, even defiant approach to narrative expectations can leave the novel feeling a bit slight, but that's a minor quibble. More books, vampire-themed or otherwise, could stand to feel this intimate. VERDICT A delicate, consistently surprising riff on the vampire narrative, and a stealthy, subversive story of one young woman's declaration of self.--Luke Gorham
Publishers Weekly Review
Kohda's delicious debut introduces a young performance artist whose centuries-old mother made her into a vampire as an infant. Lydia, 23, was raised on her mother Julie's self-hating rhetoric and Julie's belief that they "didn't deserve to feel satiated." Her human father, who was a famous Japanese artist, died before her birth, leaving Lydia feeling isolated from both her Japanese and human heritage. When Julie's declining memory makes assisted living necessary, Lydia sets out on her own with a new art studio space in London--unsure whether to continue following her mother's regimen, which called for pig's blood instead of human. Kohda gets off to a slow start, plodding through Lydia's move into her studio and an unfulfilling internship at a gallery. But things pick up after Lydia's store of pig's blood runs out and she begins compulsively watching #WhatIEatInADay videos. Here, Kodha palpably conveys Lydia's disconnection from the human experiences she so desperately wants, and after Lydia takes her first taste of human blood (from a towel used to clean up after a bike accident), she instantly feels all-powerful. The pace quickens, bounding toward a thrilling end, as Lydia questions whether to run from or honor her legacy. Once this gets going, it's great fun. Agent: Sam Copeland, RCW Literary. (Apr.)
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