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Lapvona: A Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh
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Lapvona: A Novel (original 2022; edition 2023)

by Ottessa Moshfegh (Author)

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7572329,582 (3.45)16
"In a village in a medieval fiefdom buffeted by natural disasters, a motherless shepherd boy finds himself the unlikely pivot of a power struggle that puts all manner of faith to a savage test, in a spellbinding novel that represents Ottessa Moshfegh's most exciting leap yet Little Marek, the abused and delusional son of the village shepherd, never knew his mother; his father told him she died in childbirth. One of life's few consolations for Marek is his enduring bond with the blind village midwife, Ina, who suckled him when he was a baby, as she did so many of the village's children. Ina's gifts extend beyond childcare: she possesses a unique ability to communicate with the natural world. Her gift often brings her the transmission of sacred knowledge on levels far beyond those available to other villagers, however religious they might be. For some people, Ina's home in the woods outside of the village is a place to fear and to avoid, a godless place. Among their number is Father Barnabas, the town priest and lackey for the depraved lord and governor, Villiam, whose hilltop manor contains a secret embarrassment of riches. The people's desperate need to believe that there are powers that be who have their best interests at heart is put to a cruel test by Villiam and the priest, especially in this year of record drought and famine. But when fate brings Marek into violent proximity to the lord's family, new and occult forces upset the old order. By year's end, the veil between blindness and sight, life and death, the natural world and the spirit world, will prove to be very thin indeed"--… (more)
Member:tayble
Title:Lapvona: A Novel
Authors:Ottessa Moshfegh (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2023), 320 pages
Collections:Your library
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Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh (2022)

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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
My first impression of Lapvona was that it is written like a Bosch painting. My mental picture of the characters in the grubby little medieval town consisted of figures that look like owl-headed sheep beasts, deformed men with odd weapons, piglet faced humans dressed in fine clothing, strange sexual proclivities carried out by uncaring overlords, and so on.

Their world is corrupt, dirty, impoverished and awful. Malnutrition runs rampant. One character has an eating disorder amid a famine caused by drought. The peasants eat dirt and drink contaminated water. She lives at the lord's house and has food, but limits herself to one leaf of cabbage to serve God.

Heinous crimes are commonplace. People punish themselves through flagellation and various other means of self-abuse.

If the priestly class weren't there to prop up the lordly class, the peasant class would ask more questions and be less stupid. The pampered, doltish lords rely upon fear for power, and for that they require the priest to instill fear of the afterlife.

Moshfegh takes them all to the stockade and gives them a good spanking. I hope we get that GOT series set in Flea Bottom and she write the scripts. ( )
  rabbit-stew | Dec 31, 2023 |
The literary equivalent of a Bosch painting: a lot of wallowing in the grotesque, giving an overall impression of a topsy turvy world where everything is corrupt and hopeless. In style, content, setting, it feels more like an allegory than a novel.
https://donut-donut.dreamwidth.org/865612.html ( )
  amydross | Dec 5, 2023 |
Absolutely weird, incredibly vile, and entertaining as hell.

I can't wait to read scathing reviews about how gross and twisted Moshfegh is. I'm also happy to report that this is so much better than Death in Her Hands... thank god. ( )
  cbwalsh | Sep 13, 2023 |
it's medieval slice of life, and life is terrible ( )
  rsainta | Jul 23, 2023 |
Cruel parable that reminded me of ‘Harvest’ by Jim Crace, also situated in a village lorded over by a wealthy, uncaring landlord, in the Middle Ages, in a story that is beset with incest, rape, pillage, hunger, and drought.

The story is related in five parts following the seasons, starting and ending with Spring. We follow Marek, a deformed bastard of an incestuous relation, who grows up with his stepdad the sheepherder. When Marek decides during a surge of angry envy to kill the landlord’s spoiled son (by throwing him off a steep edge), he has to live with the ironic consequences – his stepfather cedes his adopted son to the landlord as a substitute. This landlord Villiam is quite playful, spending his days in idle games involving people singing for him, throwing edibles at servants, eating and vomiting at excess in sausage eating contests and nocturnal adventures and conversations with the village priest, concocting new ways to exploit Lapvona’s villagers. Despite his idle playfulness, the landlord is not stupid, he practises all the tricks in the book to extort the villagers: mobilising a gang of robbers to pillage the village and reap the benefits, tell the villagers during a drought that the sale of the harvest fell thru because their goods were stolen on the way to the market, blaming the drought on the devil and the villagers’ disobedient ways while hoarding the water in his own dam. He despises his wife, who cheats on him with the stable master. Hence he asks the stable master to bring in a famous singer from a place at one day travelling distance, has him assassinated and next drives his wife to despair (she escapes at night never to be seen again, her horse is found with his eyes carved out - the very same eyes that Ina the village witch-herbalist is subsequently seen using).

The story is concluded in a typical macabre, and yet plausible way: the landlord marries the deaf mute mom of Marek, who escaped from the nunnery, and arrived at the castle after being raped and impregnated by Marek's dad. Marek has been adopted as the landlord's son. On discovery of the pregnancy, the landlord declares that his newly married wife bears the child of God – that should increase his popularity amongst pilgrims. But when he delays payment of taxes due, and fails to explain the disappearance of his former wife, a sister to the overlord, the game is up. The overlord sends poisoned wine, and somehow this wine wipes out everyone, except Marek and his (foster) dad the new stable master. Marek is the new landlord in name, being completely dominated by the overlord and his tugs.

Moshfegh’s writings are quite graphic and in-the-face. When she writes about Ina, the blind herbalist, who was exorcized (when her family died of a strange disease and Ina didn’t) and who can speak with birds, that she feels lonely, she observes ‘When she asked the birds what to do, they answered that they didn’t know anything about love, that love was a distinctly human defect which God had created to counterbalance the power of human greed.’ ( )
  alexbolding | May 13, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Moshfegh, Ottessaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pérez Parra, Inmaculada C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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There was no right way to deal with grief, of course. When God gives you more than you can tolerate, you turn to instinct. And instinct is a force beyond anyone's control.
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"In a village in a medieval fiefdom buffeted by natural disasters, a motherless shepherd boy finds himself the unlikely pivot of a power struggle that puts all manner of faith to a savage test, in a spellbinding novel that represents Ottessa Moshfegh's most exciting leap yet Little Marek, the abused and delusional son of the village shepherd, never knew his mother; his father told him she died in childbirth. One of life's few consolations for Marek is his enduring bond with the blind village midwife, Ina, who suckled him when he was a baby, as she did so many of the village's children. Ina's gifts extend beyond childcare: she possesses a unique ability to communicate with the natural world. Her gift often brings her the transmission of sacred knowledge on levels far beyond those available to other villagers, however religious they might be. For some people, Ina's home in the woods outside of the village is a place to fear and to avoid, a godless place. Among their number is Father Barnabas, the town priest and lackey for the depraved lord and governor, Villiam, whose hilltop manor contains a secret embarrassment of riches. The people's desperate need to believe that there are powers that be who have their best interests at heart is put to a cruel test by Villiam and the priest, especially in this year of record drought and famine. But when fate brings Marek into violent proximity to the lord's family, new and occult forces upset the old order. By year's end, the veil between blindness and sight, life and death, the natural world and the spirit world, will prove to be very thin indeed"--

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