Mona by Pola Oloixarac: A review
Here's what we know about Mona: She is a prolific user of drink and drugs to the point where she loses herself and loses memory. On the day she is to fly out for the Scandinavian literary festival, she wakes up with extensive bruises on her body and no memory of how they came to be there. She is apparently involved with two different men one of whom may - or may not - be responsible for the bruising. Throughout the days that follow she will be receiving texts from these men, some of them threatening, and she ignores them all. During the festival, she takes care to hide her bruises but she is haunted by the fact that she cannot remember how she got them. Her affect is cynical and sardonic. She presents a tough gal exterior to the world but underneath all that she is a mess and she keeps getting flashes of a violence which she cannot explain.
The depiction of the international set of writers at the festival is often quite amusing. The writer employs stereotypes of many of the nationalities represented such as the Japanese, French, Colombian, Swedish, Icelandic, etc., for comic effect. Mona herself cannot quite believe that she belongs in such company and that she has been nominated for the prestigious prize. She has no expectation that she will actually win and she continues to be tormented by demons that she can't really understand.
Oloixarac gives us a unique view of the literary world and a memorable character study of a disaffected writer. There was much that I really enjoyed about the book but in the end, I felt that the narrative didn't quite come together. The descriptive style became a bit vexatious, including the extensive use of stereotypes, and I found the ending less than satisfactory. I had not read Oloixarac before. This is her third book and her first one, Savage Theories, in particular, was highly praised. She is a talented writer and I would be interested in reading more of her work.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars