Lapvona: The unmissable Sunday Times Bestseller

Ottessa Moshfegh

Lapvona: The unmissable Sunday Times Bestseller
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Lapvona: The unmissable Sunday Times Bestseller

Ottessa Moshfegh

In the land of Lapvona, the lord of the land Villiam is cheating the local villagers of their food, their water, their livelihoods. Grotesque and ridiculous, he marries the pregnant and tongueless ex-nun Agata, whom he believes will make him God, and his son will be the second Christ.

It’s a land of murder, cannibalism, incest and rape. Despite all of the characters' individual inadequacies and madness, you find yourself completely engrossed in each character’s fate, be it Marek, Jude, Agata, Villiam, Lispeth, Ina, Father Barnabas. It’s an anti-fairytale within a fairytale - maybe this is what hell on earth looks like? Is it an indictment of humanity, of religion, of grotesque despots?

An original work of brilliance - singular, funny, horrifying and entertaining in equal measure.

Review

It is always a thrill opening a new book by Ottessa Moshfegh. You never know what you’re going to get. The only certainty is that it’ll be unlike anything else you’ve ever read before. Her previous novels, Eileen, My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Death in Her Hands, are as dissimilar from each other as they are from a Dickens novel. With Lapvona, Moshfegh breaks the mould again, this time tackling historical(ish) fiction. If you’re looking to be shocked, thrilled, challenged, and a little (or a lot) disgusted, Lapvona is the book for you.

Told with Moshfegh’s signature humour and depravity, the story takes place over the course of a year in a village in Lapvona – a medieval, generically European fiefdom. Banditry, famine, drought and murder abound in Lapvona. It’s hard to pin down a specific chain of events for the novel as its driven by character rather than plot. The best way to prepare you for the narrative is to give you a short description of Moshfegh’s perverted cast of characters, which includes: a consumptive lord with a predilection for little boys; a self- flagellating shepherd with a predilection for little girls; a mute nun with no sense of morality; a disabled teenage boy who is a handy stone thrower; a host of extremely pious, cabbage-eating servants; a gluttonous, atheistic priest; and an ancient and blind witch with a particularly enticing pair of breasts.

Lapvona is a tale as crude and cruel as the Middle Ages itself. If you’re already a fan of Moshfegh, then this will not disappoint. But it may turn your stomach once or twice. If you’re unfamiliar with Moshfegh’s work … well, buckle up; you’re in for a wild ride.


Tristen Brudy is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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