Revenge: Murder in Three Parts (S L Lim, Transit Lounge)
S L Lim’s riveting sophomore novel opens with a disturbing scene of sibling abuse. Yannie, a shy and book-loving teenage girl, lives in the shadow of her brother Shan, who is favoured by their parents. She seeks comfort in school and excels in her studies, but it is Shan who gets to go to university overseas while Yannie is forced to stay in Malaysia to care for her parents and tend to their shop. Yannie only experiences freedom in middle-age, finally unshackled from familial duties after her parents die. With her meagre savings she travels to Sydney to visit Shan, who is now rich. As she finds herself getting along with his wife and daughter, she acquaints herself with his world and plots an act of vengeance which will change their lives forever. Told in three parts, Revenge is a unique bildungsroman about an older woman on a quest for self-determination and the heartbreak she endures to find herself. A fiercely feminist novel about a woman’s life put to a standstill by gender bias, sexual repression and the expectations of family, Revenge is also about the weaponisation of familial love and the tragedy of unfulfilled dreams. Lim’s astute rendering of the subtleties of familial power dynamics makes this novel powerful reading for all.
Cher Tan is a writer in Melbourne.