Victor LaValle’s The Changeling (Book Review)

Although Penguin Random House classifies The Changeling by Victor LaValle as “Literary Fiction” and “Contemporary Fantasy,” LaValle’s book doesn’t fit neatly into either  genre. The novel defines itself in its first line: “This fairy tale begins in 1968 during a garbage strike” (3). While modern audiences may have become accustomed to seeing Hans Christian Andersen’s tales in their sanitized Disney form, LaValle, as well as the characters in The Changeling, work to return fairy tales to their visceral origins, packed with social commentary while incorporating technology and addressing race.

LaValle’s protagonist, Apollo Kwaga, is a rare and antiquarian bookseller and for the first one-hundred pages or so, his life is mundane. The only hints of a supernatural world emerging in the opening pages are seen in pictures texted to his wife Emma that mysteriously disappear before she can show them to Apollo. They have their first child, and Emma suffers from something that looks very much like postpartum depression; however, something shocking happens, forcing Apollo into a new, much darker, magical world…

Read the rest at Spectator and Spooks!

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