Fragile Monsters

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

A SPELLBINDING DEBUT NOVEL SET BETWEEN WW2 AND CONTEMPORARY MALAYSIA

Mary is a difficult grandmother for Durga to love. She is sharp-tongued and ferocious, with more demons than there are lines on her palms. When Durga visits her in rural Malaysia, she only wants to endure Mary, and the dark memories home brings, for as long as it takes to escape.

But a reckoning is coming. Stuck together in the rising heat, both women must untangle the truth from the myth of their family’s past. What happened to Durga’s mother after she gave birth? Why did so many of their family members disappear during the war? And who is to blame for the childhood tragedy that haunts her to this day?

In her stunning debut novel Catherine Menon traces one family’s story from 1920 to the present, unravelling a thrilling tale of love, betrayal and redemption against the backdrop of natural disasters and fallen empires. Written in vivid technicolour, with an electric daughter-grandmother relationship at its heart, Fragile Monsters explores what happens when secrets fester through the generations.

As they will learn, in a place ravaged by floods, it is only a matter of time before the bones of the past emerge.

‘Supple, artful, skilful storytelling – it takes an immediate grip on the reader’s imagination and doesn’t let go’ HILARY MANTEL

‘A brilliant novel about homecoming and the layered, unstable past that haunts and hurts . . . I admire it enormously’
Colm Tóibín

© Catherine Menon 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Critics Review

  • Supple, artful, skilful storytelling – it takes an immediate grip on the reader’s imagination and doesn’t let go

  • A brilliant novel about homecoming and the layered, unstable past that haunts and hurts . . . I admire it enormously

  • An impressive debut, atmospheric and unsettling

    Telegraph, 5 stars
  • A striking debut . . . A bold, interesting novel . . . I’m excited to see what Menon comes up with next

    Sunday Times
  • A bravura debut novel . . . It’s clever, satisfying, and often playful

    Guardian
  • This is a book saturated with the sensations of southeast Asia; where, in Menon’s pungent turns of phrase, you feel as though you could “grab the air in two hands and wring it out”; where guilt can be “squatting in the room . . . stringy as spit”, and where tiger princes and jungle spirits lurk amid a painful colonial past

    The Times, pick of the latest fiction

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