An outstanding novel from a talent to watch.
SL Lim’s second novel Revenge was long listed for the 2017 Epigram Fiction Manuscript Prize. She has reworked this manuscript and, in the process, delivered a powerful and highly individual novel.
Yannie lives with her working-class family in an unnamed south-east Asian city. Despite the fact that she is much smarter and more academic than him, her brother Shan is the apple of her parents’ eyes and receives the opportunities Yannie feels she deserves. While her resentment simmers, she meets Shuying, a new girl at school, developing a passionate crush on her. Meanwhile, the kind but dull Jun tries his best to woo Yannie. While Shan goes overseas, eventually settling in Sydney, Yannie is left to run the family shop, and care for her ageing parents.
Lim has created an extraordinarily rounded and fascinating character in Yannie, from whose point-of-view the work is written. Although not always likeable, she maintains our sympathy to the end.
Within the pages of Lim’s novel are complex family relationships, the Asian-Australian experience, the difficulties of being female, being queer, loving and hating someone at the same time, ageing, and the power of unexpressed resentment. It is at once moving, suspenseful, charming, and humorous. Lim’s writing is unfailingly crisp.
Populated by larger-than-life, yet entirely authentic characters, with a narrative that rolls along at a pace, Revenge is a near-perfect novel.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Distributed by: Transit Lounge Publishing
Released: September 2020