Third Place Books is thrilled to welcome Mona Awad to our Seward Park store! Awad will be discussing Rouge, her new novel which holds up a warped mirror to our relationship with mortality, our collective fixation with the surface, and the wondrous, deep longing that might lie beneath. She will be joined in conversation by Kira Jane Buxton, the staff-favorite author of Feral Creatures and Hollow Kingdom. This event is free and open to the public.
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For as long as she can remember, Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos. When her estranged mother Noelle mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother’s considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death. The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalizing clue about her mother’s demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience. With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Méduse, the same lavish, culty spa to which her mother was devoted. There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother’s) obsession with the mirror—and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass.
Snow White meets Eyes Wide Shut in this surreal descent into the dark side of beauty, envy, grief, and the complicated love between mothers and daughters. With black humor and seductive horror, Rouge explores the cult-like nature of the beauty industry—as well as the danger of internalizing its pitiless gaze. Brimming with California sunshine and blood-red rose petals, Rouge holds up a warped mirror to our relationship with mortality, our collective fixation with the surface, and the wondrous, deep longing that might lie beneath.
“[A] delightfully twisted fairy tale… The author’s acerbic wit radiates in this excoriating story of beauty’s ugly side.”
“At a time in history when beauty routines drain souls and time, Mona Awad has fashioned a smart, page-turning mystery about a young woman besotted by all things skincare. In elegant prose, Rouge digs through the tormented love that can both bind and estrange a mother and her daughter, and a body from a deeper self. Awad is one of those literary juggernauts to read every word of. Rouge is a triumph, deep and riveting, profound and terrifying. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of The Liar’s Club and Cherry
"There is nobody else like Mona Awad, daring enough to plunge her hands—rings and all—into the viscera of story and discover an unsettling beauty within. ROUGE is her most magnetic work yet, a thrilling dystopian romp that knows that beneath the glossy, aspirational veneer of self-care lurks the same old gothic abyss."
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
"A brilliant, biting critique of western beauty standards as well as a soaring, phantasmagoric, Angela Carter-esque fairy tale about trauma and the loss of self. Rouge is deeply unsettling, funny, obsessive, and unlike anything I've read. A truly mesmerizing read."
—Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts
"Unsettling, whimsical, and moving, Rouge is an authentic, innovative kind of narrative magic that's both surreal and absolute. A striking novel of incandescence and heart."
—Iain Reid, author of I'm Thinking of Ending Thing
Mona Awad is the author of the novels All’s Well, Bunny, and 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl. Bunny was a finalist for a Goodreads Choice Award and the New England Book Award. It was named a Best Book of 2019 by TIME, Vogue, and the New York Public Library. It is currently being developed for film with Bad Robot Productions. All’s Well was a finalist for a Goodreads Choice Award. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. Awad’s forthcoming novel Rouge, is being adapted for film by Fremantle and Sinestra. This spring, Margaret Atwood named Awad her ‘literary heir’ in The New York Times’s T Magazine. She teaches fiction in the creative writing program at Syracuse University and is based in Boston. (Photo credit: Angela Sterling)
Kira Jane Buxton’s debut novel, Hollow Kingdom, was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, the Audie Awards, and the Washington State Book Awards, and was named a best book of 2019 by NPR, Book Riot, and Good Housekeeping. She spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, five Steller’s jays, two dark-eyed juncos, two squirrels, and a husband.
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