'The Changeling' by Victor Lavalle '98 Among Best Books of the Year
December 28, 2017
The book, which defies genre but blends social criticism with horror and the supernatural, centers around a new father, Apollo Kagwa, a used-book dealer who is trying to turn his fortunes around.
“The myth of the bad mom gets the horror-story treatment in this novel, which takes place deep in the boroughs of New York City,” writes Sarah Begley for Time. “Apollo Kagwa and his wife Emma Valentine are thrilled to welcome their first child, but soon after his birth, Emma feels a strange distance from her son—is this the boy she birthed, or some sinister imposter? The story cleverly interrogates parenting norms, racial prejudice and technological quandaries.”
According to USA Today, the book is “not only an engaging read but an important one.”
“This modern fairy tale superbly tells the story of a man desperately trying to find the truth about his dead son while weaving in witches, trolls and Trump-era issues.”
Jennifer Senior, in the Times Book Review, wrote that Lavalle’s observations about race “remain, as ever, both stinging and mordantly funny.”
“His imagination is unusually visual,” she continues. “His sensibility is so deadpan that it borders on a kind of derangement. And he has a real flair for the strategically placed f-bomb, which, in my view, is an underrated skill.”
LaValle is an assistant professor of professional practice in the Writing program. He is also the author of the story collection, Slapboxing with Jesus, and five novels.