Mona by Pola Oloixarao
Mona is a book that made it into my suitcase for this trip mainly because Chaya told me she’d heard great things — and if there’s one booklover I listen to, it’s the other half of @thebibliofilles Once I read the blurb, I found myself instantly drawn to the story because the main protagonist is Peruvian and South America has always held a special place in my heart; though that’s a story for another time.
Mona, a writer, is invited to attend a prestigious award ceremony for the Baskke-Wortz literary prize in Stockholm; a prize for which her debut novel has been nominated. Dripping in satire, we hear of her journey to Sweden (she spends much of the flight masturbating) and the stories of the other writers who she encounters during the ceremony. There are moments of real wit and humour but also deep darkness and despair as we realise the journey Mona is on is so much more than a professional trip. She can’t seem to stop crying and her distress is palpable to us as readers yet no one around her seems to be aware of what she is going through. Indeed, Mona herself doesn’t seem to really understand the details of it but she will; and at the end, you’ll feel like you’ve collided head on with a bus.
We aren’t sure how we felt about Mona as a character. We don’t know that we liked her much at times but we know that we felt for her. That she felt incredibly raw and real and that she made us think. About art, literature, writing and the complexities of each and every one of us. And we know that for all it’s dark twists and grit, we loved this novel and it’s power, which felt utterly unique.
Order your copy here.