cover image Woman, Eating

Woman, Eating

Claire Kohda. HarperVia, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-314088-2

Kohda’s delicious debut introduces a young performance artist whose centuries-old mother made her into a vampire as an infant. Lydia, 23, was raised on her mother Julie’s self-hating rhetoric and Julie’s belief that they “didn’t deserve to feel satiated.” Her human father, who was a famous Japanese artist, died before her birth, leaving Lydia feeling isolated from both her Japanese and human heritage. When Julie’s declining memory makes assisted living necessary, Lydia sets out on her own with a new art studio space in London—unsure whether to continue following her mother’s regimen, which called for pig’s blood instead of human. Kohda gets off to a slow start, plodding through Lydia’s move into her studio and an unfulfilling internship at a gallery. But things pick up after Lydia’s store of pig’s blood runs out and she begins compulsively watching #WhatIEatInADay videos. Here, Kodha palpably conveys Lydia’s disconnection from the human experiences she so desperately wants, and after Lydia takes her first taste of human blood (from a towel used to clean up after a bike accident), she instantly feels all-powerful. The pace quickens, bounding toward a thrilling end, as Lydia questions whether to run from or honor her legacy. Once this gets going, it’s great fun. Agent: Sam Copeland, RCW Literary. (Apr.)