S.L. Lim on Revenge: Murder in Three Parts, plus Book Review
Today we welcome author S L Lim to discuss her inspiration for new book Revenge: Murder in Three Parts.
Then read our review of this thought-provoking novel. Plus, thanks to Transit Lounge Publishing we have 2 ebook copies of Revenge to giveaway worldwide. See entry form below.
S L Lim on her inspiration for Revenge
Families are the worst. If I could spring fully formed out of a rock or some kind of accursed spring I would certainly do so. Unfortunately here I am, made out of meat and stuff. What a disaster.
More seriously almost everyone loves their families. There’s a tenderness there, if only from proximity and presence. Even abusive families are often very loving. It’s a bit of a no-true- Scotsman fallacy to say that violent parents don’t love their children, or that violent spouses don’t love their partners. When someone says, ‘You can’t leave because I need you’, that second part might well be true. That doesn’t make it OK. But knowing something is ‘bad’ doesn’t necessarily remove the kink of feeling.
It’s this tension between love and fear, between feeling that everything is possible and that nothing is, which drives Revenge as a novel.
Revenge follows the story of Yannie, a person with great talent and a great capacity for desire who, through a combination of poverty, gender, sexuality and being born on the wrong side of a border, is denied the chance to explore that talent and pursue that desire. In a way it is a kind of personal counterfactual. I am neither as clever nor emotionally detonated as this character but have often wondered how I would manage in a situation where money, morality and social expectation inhibit me from doing what I want – not as a temporary state, but for a lifetime.
I think I would be furious. And I was interested in the idea of channelling that fury, what might happen to a person who refuses to scale their desire in proportion to their circumstances.
I’m aware of talking around the question of what inspired Revenge rather than directly answering it. Actually I can’t remember. Who gets inspired by anything, these days? I don’t know if I’ve ever been inspired by anything, honestly. But that’s a lie, because I listen to quite a lot of music and around the time I was beginning to write this I got really obsessed with the band Pulp. There’s ‘Common People’ of course, but there’s also the song ‘I Spy’ and a particular live recording which is just spectacular, this mix of performance and sincerity and fury and self-mockery and class rage. And another song, ‘Pink Glove’, so full of hilarity and mourning. I liked the idea of replicating this emotional Molotov-cocktail in the form of a novel and have included a soundtrack in the afterword.
“… this mix of performance and sincerity and fury and self-mockery and class rage… I liked the idea of replicating this emotional Molotov-cocktail in the form of a novel”
I think all of this might make the book sound pretty messed up and honestly, it kind of is. But I like Yannie as a character. I think in spite of everything, Yannie really loves the world – she’s attentive to beauty and to people as they are. It’s an extraordinary act to see other people as real. Even as she’s making very cynical observations of other people, she’s also observing them with deep attention. I think it’s one thing to be liked but another to be seen, and we don’t often get that even from people who really care about us. So the prospect this is even possible carries hope.
In the year 10000000, if we’re not all dead, maybe there will still be books and people can keep reading them! Speaking of which, I hope you buy this book and read it and enjoy! Thank you very much x.
Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.
Revenge: Murder in Three Parts Synopsis
‘Before I go into my grave,’ she says out loud, ‘I will kill that man.’
A brilliant new novel from the author of Real Differences. A family favour their son over their daughter. Shan attends university before making his fortune in Australia while Yannie must find menial employment and care for her ageing parents. After her mother’s death, Yannie travels to Sydney to become enmeshed in her psychopathic brother’s new life, which she seeks to undermine from within …
This is a novel that rages against capitalism, hetero-supremacy, mothers, fathers, families – the whole damn thing. It’s about what happens when you want to make art but are born in the wrong time and place.
S. L. Lim brings to vivid life the frustrations of a talented daughter and vengeful sister in a nuanced and riveting novel that ends in the most unexpected way. It will not be easily forgotten.
‘A coiled spring of a novel, Revenge hits you right between the eyes.’ Malcolm Harris, author of Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials
1 of 6 titles on the 2021 Stella Prize Shortlist
(Transit Lounge Publishing, 2020)
My Revenge Review
Revenge‘s matter-of-fact narrative belies the nuance, complexity and depth of thought and feeling this novel so capably explores. Lead Yannie is at the mercy of her circumstances, but knowingly so; insightfully even, as though a captive that holds the key.
… the facts of life press in on her like the four walls of a metal cube. Yannie has talent, yes, and a hefty dos of self-belief – but she is also female, provincial and poor. Any chance of life beyond the menial seems vanishingly remote. The anger draws a band around her body, constricting her chest. The worst part of it is that no-one, individually speaking, is to blame. There is no villain, no evil monster who has deliberately and personally set out to quell her talents. It’s just the lottery of circumstances, a game she lost before she even was born. Lay down your arms, woman; this isn’t a battle, it’s a rout. And yet. And yet.
Lim’s prose precision translates into intensity and largely introspective musings take on an uncommon and compelling urgency. I found myself admiring cleverly concise phrasing — the simplest of sentences, understated observations, that pack the punch of a sledgehammer. For example, the dark humour in overwrought obligatory performances, ridiculous inequities and unconscious coupling of value and belief systems. But also, I was swiftly turning the pages, as suspense from expectation steadily builds.
S.L. Lim’s Revenge: A Murder in Three Parts is a relatively slim but intensely thought-provoking literary novel.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5 — Overall 4
Get your copy of Revenge: Murder in Three Parts from:
If you like the sound of this novel, you may also enjoy reading:
5 Ways To Be Famous Now by Maurilia Meehan / The Plotters by Un-su Kim / At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong / The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa / The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada
This review counts toward my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2020 and the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge.
About the Author, S L Lim
S. L. Lim was born in Singapore and moved to Sydney at the age of one. Her award-winning first novel Real Differences was published by Transit Lounge in 2019. She has appeared at literary festivals including Melbourne and Byron.
Worldwide eBook Giveaway
Thanks to Transit Lounge Publishing we have 2 ebook copies of Revenge: Murder in Three Parts to giveaway. Entries open worldwide, close midnight 17 September 2020.
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SORRY, ENTRIES CLOSED – See winners announcement.