The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
This is an easy book to recommend as it is successful is a number of different ways: firstly, it is engaging and enjoyable to read, well-paced and with the protagonist’s back-story gradually emerging in synchronicity with the plot; secondly, it is thought-provoking in its examination of the phenomenon of identity, something that belongs more to the world that surrounds an individual than to the individual to whom the identity is applied, something that brings its expectations and defining history, both of which are slippery enough to be shrugged off and exchanged if circumstances demand or allow; thirdly, it is written throughout in the second person, an affect that is elsewhere rarely successful but here is perfectly natural and compelling, making the reader entirely complicit in the elusions and deceptions of protagonist.
In Vendela Vida's taut and mesmerizing novel of ideas, a woman travels to Casablanca, Morocco, on mysterious business. While checking into her hotel, the woman is robbed of her wallet and passport - all of her money and identification. Though the police investigate, the woman senses an undercurrent of complicity between the hotel staff and the authorities - she knows she'll never recover her possessions. Stripped of her identity, she feels burdened by the crime yet strangely liberated by her sudden freedom to be anyone she chooses. A chance encounter with a movie producer leads to a job posing as a stand-in for a well-known film star. The star reels her in deeper, though, and soon she's inhabiting the actress's skin off set, too - going deeper into the Casablancan night and further from herself. And so continues a strange and breathtaking journey full of unexpected turns, an adventure in which the woman finds herself moving further and further away from the person she once was. Told with vibrant, lush detail and a wicked sense of humour, The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty is part literary mystery, part psychological thriller - an unforgettable novel that explores free will, power, and a woman's right to choose not her past, perhaps not her present, but certainly her future. This is Vendela Vida's most assured and ambitious novel yet.
'Part glamorous travelogue, part slow-burn mystery, this full-bodied tale of a runaway is at once formally inventive and heartbreakingly familiar... (It's also insanely funny.)' Lena Dunham
A thriller-taut story of a crisis of identity and opportunity, full of lies, shadows and subterfuge. --Psychologies;An intoxicatingly strange quest for anonymity... What emerges from this shifting, uncertain terrain is a novel of sublime unease and delicious bewilderment. You are not yourself, and it is wonderful. --Guardian; Ms Vida's novel portrays with cool wit and suspense the explosive emancipation of a woman who is finally empowered to grab some warmth, drama, magic for herself. --International New York Times; [An] intimate and understated tale...powerful and empowering, thanks to the author's innate skill. --The Big Issue; Very funny... The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty is also moving, clever and bright as a button. --Independent on Sunday; Full of surprises, it demands to be read in one go. --Good Housekeeping; This enigmatic psychological thriller...puts the reader squarely in the shoes of the protagonist, making this already taut mystery thriller an even more intense read. --Scotsman
Vendela Vida is the author of the acclaimed novels And Now You Can Go, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Lovers. She is a founding editor of The Believer magazine, and the editor of The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and children.