Yvonne Su is a teacher in Orange County, Calif.

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Does a Story Lose Its Power When It Loses Its Hope?

by Yvonne Su 10-31-2022
In Ottessa Moshfegh's Lapvona, life becomes increasingly awful, with no end in sight.
The cover of 'Lapvona' featuring a tied-up lamb by Otessa Moshfegh.

Lapvona, by Ottessa Moshfegh / Penguin

WHAT IS A devout village to believe in during a time of famine and plague? Ottessa Moshfegh presents a story devoid of hope and redemption in her latest novel Lapvona, proving that in dire times, believing is not a want but a need.

Moshfegh has a flare for brutality (Eileen and Death in Her Hands). With Lapvona, Moshfegh has crafted a medieval fantasy in the vein of Game of Thrones. It reads like a fairy-tale epic for adults, with its cast of fringe characters and fable-esque sequence of events. But this fantasy is far more depraved: As religious as the villagers are, there is no redemption to be found in this village.