The Changeling, Victor Lavalle - a review
I have been really lucky this year and have read some wonderful books, but this book is my favourite so far. I came across it while studying an online writing course “Moving the Margins”, a great course by the way. They included the first 50 pages of this novel as study material, but once I’d read 50 pages I knew I needed to buy the book and read the rest.
The genre is best described as magical realism. It’s set in New York and the central character is a young man with a Ghanaian mother and a white, ex-cop, father. He’s a book man and spends his time searching for rare books. On the day of his greatest find his wife attacks him and kills their son, or so it seems. But the book is far more complex than that. The title might give you some clues.
It’s about masculinity and the changing nature of fatherhood; it’s about motherhood, childbirth, love, paranoia, cyber-stalking, immigration, witches, wishes, revenge and trolls (both kinds). It is also beautifully written.
Tradition and high tech mesh seamlessly in the story. It takes mere steps to bridge the mundane and the magical. I’ve read one other writer who manages to do this with equal elegance – Haruki Murakami.
It is a deeply human tale about what can go wrong psychologically and emotionally when a couple has a baby. I cannot recommend enough that you get hold of this book now and consume it.
5/5 stars – absolute perfection.