Fifteen-year-old Monk drifts through a monotonous existence in a grimy Chinatown apartment with her “grumpy brown couch” of a dad, until she meets high school senior Santa Coy ([email protected]). For a moment, it looks like he might be her boyfriend. But when Monk's dad becomes obsessed with Santa Coy's artwork, Monk finds herself shunted to the sidelines as her father and the object of her affections begin to hatch a scheme of their own. To keep up, Monk must navigate a combustible cocktail of odd assignments, peculiar places, and murky underworld connections.
In Jamie Marina Lau's debut novel, shortlisted for Australia's prestigious Stella Prize when she was nineteen years old, hazily surreal vignettes conjure a multifaceted world of philosophical angst and lackadaisical violence.
“In Australian writer Lau’s perceptive debut, an angsty teen misunderstands the actions and intentions of those around her. . . . This inventive work satisfies in its blending of teenage ennui and a fragmented noir aesthetic.” —Publishers Weekly
“In this hallucinatory, impressionistic novel by a 23-year-old Australian writer, a girl’s involvement with an artist opens up a world preoccupied by money and drugs. . . . [H]yperassociative, impressively strange.” —Kirkus
“Strange and raucous. . . . [I]t’s pretty perfect that one of the best novels about art and scams and art scams that I've read in a while is also a high-school novel, because. . . . the two milieus aren’t that different at all; they’re all about illusion and pretense and a desperate desire to belong. Lau captures all this with a chaotic, instantly addictive style and canny insights into the motivations that drive people to do some very dark things.” —Refinery29
“[A] rapturous inversion of boy-meets-girl; a narrative that unfurls with prescience in surrealist vignettes, laced with cosmic specificities.” —Maudlin House
““Written as a rambunctious collection of mostly linear journal entries, Monk is completely an unreliable narrator. However, she’s also a very believable one. Clearly her perception may be skewed by adolescent myopia and naivet´e, but I can’t help to be enamored with her sincerity and authenticity. . . . Calling to mind a heady combination of Rian Johnson’s Brick, The Virgin Suicides, and On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee, this book captures your attention then pulls you headlong into the action.&rdquo —Bearded Gentleman Music
“This novel is a strange peninsula of tender and splintered and waterlogged prose. I want to bottle it and put it on my mantle and dare every guest to take a sip.” —Hilary Leichter
“Bouncing with the violence of everyday banality, Pink Mountain on Locust Island understands how the malaise of youth can turn the humdrum into the magical. Not Magical Realism or anything like that, but the sparkle of each unoriginal moment. The way the lumped-upon-lumpness of life becomes a rhythm to set ones watch to and, within this predictable everydayness, build a fully and uniquely original alternate reality. Jaime Marina Lau has the poetic third eye and she walks between worlds. Weird AF, but in that good way.” —Nikki Darling
“Visceral, restless, and edgy, while soulful and contemplative of exactly what Asian American diasporas are going through right now (“Stop looking at me with those contaminated eyes”), Pink Mountain on Locust Island will grab you with its originality and vivid imagery and, like such classics as Dogeaters (Jessica Hagedorn) and Bone (Fae Myenne Ng), juxtaposes frenetic energy against the claustrophobia of class and tradition. I loved this book, read it in a day, could not put it down. Episodic, startling, young, this is a must read. The language is indeed elastic, and lovely.” —Chaya Bhuvaneswar
“Pink Mountain on Locust Island is written in prose that, like its fifteen year old protagonist, is surly, chaotic, compulsively attentive, and full of tender desperation. Plot takes a back seat to raw sensation and atmospherics. Queasily cinematic, as if Wong Kar-Wai and Agnes Varda took an acid trip together, shot through with flashes of sly, pitch perfect humor.” —Mimi Lok
“A simmering novel of art and crime told in the voice of an infectious and dourly charismatic young narrator. For all of Monk’s rebellious charm, for all her ironic distance, for all her teenage angst, she tells a story of innocence and naiveté that ultimately reveals the wide gap between what adults promise their children and what adults actually deliver. Lau’s narrative voice walks a fine edge between irony and earnestness, creating an unforgettable character who turns a mundane, maybe even maudlin, tale of crime into a fresh, vibrant story of adolescent awakening.” —Josh Cook, Porter Square Books
“[A] deliciously disjointed novel . . . [with] fizzingly short chapters and an ultra-contemporary plot that seems tailor-made to appeal to distracted digital natives.” —ELLE Australia
“This book is like nothing you have ever read before—a kaleidoscope of colours, smells and fragments of life observed by a teenager in a Chinatown somewhere in an unknown city. . . . Lau's dizzying prose is like a series of crazy neon-lit performance art as she dissects, with extraordinary effervescence, Monk's teenage angst, her struggles to fit in with her school friends, their parents, her father and her unhappily married sister.” —Stella Prize Citation