Mac's Backs Book Club discusses Mona by Pola Oloixarac.
Mona, a Peruvian writer based in California, presents a tough and sardonic exterior. She likes drugs and cigarettes, and when she learns that she is something of an anthropological curiosity--a woman writer of color treasured at her university for the flourish of rarefied diversity she brings--she pokes fun at American academic culture and its fixation on identity.
When she is nominated for "the most important literary award in Europe," Mona sees a chance to escape her downward spiral of sunlit substance abuse and erotic distraction, so she trades the temptations of California for a small, gray village in Sweden, close to the Arctic Circle. Now she is stuck in the company of all her jet-lagged--and mostly male--competitors, arriving from Japan, France, Armenia, Iran, and Colombia. Isolated as they are, the writers do what writers do: exchange compliments, nurse envy and private resentments, stab rivals in the back, and hop in bed together. All the while, Mona keeps stumbling across the mysterious traces of a violence she cannot explain.
As her adventures in Scandinavia unfold, Mona finds that she has not so much escaped her demons as locked herself up with them in the middle of nowhere. In Mona, Pola Oloixarac paints a hypnotic, scabrous, and ultimately jaw-dropping portrait of a woman facing down a hipster elite to which she does and does not belong. A survivor of both patronization and bizarre sexual encounters, Mona is a new kind of feminist. But her past won't stay past, and strange forces are working to deliver her the test of a lifetime.
Both a wicked satire of the literary élite and an exploration of art and violence . . . The novel is the kind that Mona imagines writing: 'terrifying, brilliant, and dangerous.' --The New Yorker
Ruthless, very funny. --The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
Pola Oloixarac was born in Buenos Aires in 1977. Her debut novel, Savage Theories, was a breakout bestseller in Argentina and was nominated for the Best Translated Book Award, and in 2010, Granta recognized her as one of the best young Spanish-language novelists. She was awarded the 2021 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer's Award. Oloixarac is a regular contributor to The New York Times, and her fiction has appeared in Granta, n+1, The White Review, and an issue of Freeman's on The Future of New Writing. Pre-viously a resident of San Francisco, California, she currently resides in Barcelona.
**Trigger warning - this book has a rape scene.**
The book will be available at Mac's Backs or through our website at the 20% book club discount.
Due to predicted rain, we will meet via Zoom - https://us02web.zoom.us/s/88018263993