Brought to you by Penguin.
A SPELLBINDING DEBUT NOVEL SET BETWEEN WW2 AND CONTEMPORARY MALAYSIA
Mary is a difficult grandmother for Durga to love. She is sharp-tongued and ferocious, with more demons than there are lines on her palms. When Durga visits her in rural Malaysia, she only wants to endure Mary, and the dark memories home brings, for as long as it takes to escape.
But a reckoning is coming. Stuck together in the rising heat, both women must untangle the truth from the myth of their family's past. What happened to Durga's mother after she gave birth? Why did so many of their family members disappear during the war? And who is to blame for the childhood tragedy that haunts her to this day?
In her stunning debut novel Catherine Menon traces one family's story from 1920 to the present, unravelling a thrilling tale of love, betrayal and redemption against the backdrop of natural disasters and fallen empires. Written in vivid technicolour, with an electric daughter-grandmother relationship at its heart, Fragile Monsters explores what happens when secrets fester through the generations.
As they will learn, in a place ravaged by floods, it is only a matter of time before the bones of the past emerge.
'Supple, artful, skilful storytelling - it takes an immediate grip on the reader's imagination and doesn't let go' HILARY MANTEL
'A brilliant novel about homecoming and the layered, unstable past that haunts and hurts . . . I admire it enormously' Colm Tóibín
© Catherine Menon 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021
An impressive debut, atmospheric and unsettling
A striking debut . . . A bold, interesting novel . . . I'm excited to see what Menon comes up with next
A bravura debut novel . . . It's clever, satisfying, and often playful
This is a book saturated with the sensations of southeast Asia; where, in Menon's pungent turns of phrase, you feel as though you could "grab the air in two hands and wring it out"; where guilt can be "squatting in the room . . . stringy as spit", and where tiger princes and jungle spirits lurk amid a painful colonial past
A rich and moving family history takes shape, filled with love and heartache, guilt and grief, and no end of secrets and lies . . . Gripping, compelling . . . Menon's story shows that, though time flows on, history's waves still ripple decades downstream
Menon is a sparky storyteller whose thickly atmospheric debut keeps us guessing as its many ghosts press in ever closer
A beautiful, richly textured absorbing read. I was utterly transported
A propulsive debut scattered with gems of fresh and surprising imagery. Menon is at her best exploring the intricate bond between women over generations, their histories strung tight over the fraught realities of a nation coming into being
Always here for a cross-generational family story, especially one that involves moral ambivalence
An intriguing, fast-paced, imaginative novel
Whether you’re seeking inspiration for your next holiday or just looking for a book to whisk you somewhere stunning, this reading list – and its attendant photos of the luxurious locales – is for you.
From historical tales to modern life dramas, laugh-out-loud love stories to fiendishly twisting thrillers – whatever your taste in novels, we have some perfect new voices to enjoy a well-earned break with this year.