Peach by Emma Glass
Published by Bloomsbury, 2018
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
With its truly singular approach, this intense, captivating novella explores the physical and psychological fallout of sexual assault like no other fiction I’ve encountered. For those worried about trigger warnings, this is undoubtedly a graphic and upsetting read, but it’s also worth noting that the assault itself takes place off-the-page; the narrative opening with our protagonist stumbling home in the moments afterwards.
Written in short, staccato sentences and regularly employing surreal imagery, the book’s unorthodox, bewildering style seems guaranteed to alienate readers who generally struggle with experimental prose (as I myself often do). The short length helps to counteract this, however; allowing the book to hit home like a swift punch to the gut while also sparing us the strain of suspending our disbelief for too long.
Not only does the writing style encapsulate our narrator’s fragmented, shellshocked mindset – her sheer inability to face the real world in its overwhelming entirety – it also allows the author to play with language and rhythm in a lively, engaging way. In fact, the book often feels like an extended prose poem that would benefit from being read aloud.
Beyond this, the surreal elements serve to make our narrator, in some ways, unreliable. The truth of her attack is never in doubt, but how much of the fever dream that follows is real, and how much is a trauma response reflective of her damaged psyche becomes unclear. As the line between the two becomes increasingly blurred, the feeling of tension and claustrophobia builds, with Glass commenting on the nature of obsession, the price of revenge, and the horror of being consumed in mind and body.
While it’s true of every book that it won’t be for everyone, the sentiment feels particularly true here. But for those able to submit themselves to its wholly original style, Peach is a powerful, visceral experience that simmers with equal parts rage and compassion.
You can pick up a copy of Peach by clicking here.