cover image Dark Chapter

Dark Chapter

Winnie M. Li. Polis, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-943818-62-4

Taiwanese-American Vivian Tan, the heroine of Li’s gripping debut, has moved to London to work as a film producer. While attending a conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, she embarks on a hike one afternoon in the city’s Glen Forest Park. On a trail, Vivian encounters a teenage boy, Johnny Sweeney, who was born into poverty and squalor and grew up watching his father physically abuse his mother. At first, Johnny is friendly, but he later attacks Vivian, beating and raping her. After the assault, a distraught Vivian calls a friend, who contacts the local police, initiating a dehumanizing process that grinds on unremittingly right through to Johnny’s trial. Back in London, suffering from PTSD and agoraphobia, Vivian takes leave from her job. Meanwhile, Johnny fails to take responsibility for his crime. The narration alternates between Vivian’s and Johnny’s points of view, though at times whose story is being told is unclear. Still, Li does a fine job exploring how one incident can change the course of a life in this astute psychological study. [em]Agent: Maria Cardona, Pontas Literary & Film Agency (Spain). (Sept.) [/em]