cover image We Eat Our Own

We Eat Our Own

Kea Wilson. Scribner, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-2831-8

In Wilson’s gripping, ambitious debut novel, a struggling actor flies to the rain forests of Colombia to star in Jungle Bloodbath, a grind house horror film directed by an eccentric Italian auteur. Roughly based on the infamously brutal production of Cannibal Holocaust, the novel tracks a wide cast of characters, including guerilla rebels, effects artists, and the director himself, as they slowly descend into barbarism. Interspersed with the alternating perspectives are transcripts from an Italian court, where the director stands accused of abuse, negligence, and murder, most of which seem to have occurred during the grueling shoot. In the name of supposed verisimilitude, the crew sets fire to an indigenous village and mutilates animals at whim, all without seeing a script. The drama builds palpably and haphazardly, drawing the invading crew and invaded population together until, in a moment of cathartic bloodshed, reality and fiction collide. Though Wilson novel’s reach occasionally exceeds its grasp, the story never flags thanks to the ferocious momentum of her prose. This is a vivid, scary novel. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (Sept.)